Fibrocystic breasts

Fibrocystic breast is a non-cancerous breast condition characterized by painful and lumpy breasts. Do not worry, if you have fibrocystic breasts as it is a common condition; more than half of all women experience it at some point in their lives. They are not harmful or dangerous but may be uncomfortable. It can occur in one or both the breasts, and most of the people do not show any symptoms.

Causes

The exact cause of the fibrocystic breast disease is still not known. Breast tissue changes in response to the hormone estrogen, secreted by ovaries. Fluctuation of hormone levels during the menstrual cycle causes breast discomfort, and the area of lumpy breast tissue can feel tender, sore, and swollen.

Risk factors

  • Fibrocystic breast changes commonly occur in women in their 30s to 50s.
  • Postmenopausal women who are on hormonal therapy may also experience this condition.
  • This condition bothers you more before the menstrual period, and the pain and lumpiness may go when your menstrual period begin.

Complications

If fibrocystic breasts are not treated on time, it may increase the risk of developing breast cancer.

Below mentioned are a few signs of breast cancer and fibrocystic breast symptoms. The signs of breast cancer and fibrocystic disease are similar. Make note of the symptoms so that proper diagnosis can be performed by the doctor to confirm the problem and to provide accurate fibrocystic breast disease treatment.

  • Breast lumps
  • Breast tenderness or pain
  • Green or dark brown discharge from the nipple
  • Breast changes
  • Swelling or shrinkage of the breast
  • Fibrosis in breast
  • Presence of breast lump that varies in size during menstrual period
  • Green or dark brown non-bloody discharge from the nipples
  • Increase in breast pain or lumpiness before the periods

Under microscope, the fibrocystic breast may show components like:

  • Cysts: fluid-filled round or oval sacs
  • Fibrosis: scar-like fibrous tissue
  • Hyperplasia: overgrowth of cells lining the milk ducts
  • Adenosis: enlarged breast lobules

Call your doctor immediately when you find

  • A new breast lump or prominent thickening in the breast area
  • Continuous and severe breast pain

Changes in the breast that persist even after your periods.

Clinical breast examination: The breasts and the lymph nodes present in the lower neck and underarm area are visually and manually examined. If your doctor finds a lump and suspects fibrocystic changes, you will be asked to come after the menstrual period if the changes persist.

Mammogram: If there is prominent thickening in your breast tissue, an X-ray is recommended.

Ultrasound: This evaluates a younger women’s dense breast tissue. It also helps your doctor to distinguish between fluid-filled cysts and solid masses.

Fine-needle aspiration: It is used to withdraw the fluid from the lump. It collapses the cyst and resolves discomfort.

Breast biopsy: It is a procedure that involves removal of small sample of breast tissue for microscopic analysis. Your doctor suggests breast biopsy when the mammogram and ultrasound are normal.

Treatment is not required when there are no symptoms or mild symptoms. Your doctor may suggest supportive therapy to treat the symptoms. They include:

  • Wear a fitted or supportive bra
  • Add ground flaxseed to your diet
  • Avoid caffeine and other stimulants
  • Reduce the intake of salt
  • Limit saturated fats in diet
  • Use evening primrose oil or vitamin E

If the symptoms are severe, then your doctor may recommend the other fibrocystic breast disease treatment options which include:

  • Oral contraceptives to lower the levels of cycle-related hormones linked to fibrocystic breast change
  • Over-the-counter pain medications such as acetaminophen, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen
  • Fine-needle aspiration which uses a hair-thin needle to drain the fluid from the cyst
  • Surgery is usually recommended to remove persistent cyst-like lump that doesn’t resolve even after needle aspiration

Home remedies are very helpful to relieve the symptoms. So follow the tips if you have fibrocystic breasts:

  • Limit or avoid caffeine intake
  • Reduce fat food
  • Reduce or stop hormonal therapy
  • Use a heating pad or warm water when you have pain or discomfort