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Fibrocystic breasts diagnosis and treatment

Most common indicator of fibrocystic breasts is breast pain or discomfort, but women with fibrocystic breasts may also not have any symptoms. If discomfort is present, the discomfort may include a dull, heavy pain in the breasts, breast tenderness, nipple itching, and/or a feeling of fullness in the breasts. These symptoms may be persistent or intermittent (coming and going), especially appearing at the onset of each menstrual period and going away immediately afterwards.

The primary method of diagnosing fibrocystic breast condition is breast exam (made by your doctor) or breast self-exam. Breast lumps can be discovered during palpation. Breast lumps are most commonly found in the upper outer quadrant of the breast. The lumps in fibrocystic breasts are typically mobile (they are not anchored to overlying or underlying tissue). They usually feel rounded, have smooth borders, and may feel rubbery or somewhat changeable in shape. Sometimes, the fibrocystic areas may feel irregular, ridge-like, or like tiny beads. These characteristics all vary from one woman to another.

Breasts that are extremely fibrocystic can be very difficult to examine by palpation (touching and feeling). Even mammograms of such extremely fibrocystic breasts may be difficult to interpret. In these cases, specialized breast ultrasound exams and other tests can be very helpful. It may sometimes be necessary to obtain a sample (biopsy) of breast tissue with a needle or by surgery in order to make an accurate diagnosis and differentiate between fibrocystic breast condition and breast cancer.

Fibrocystic breasts treatment

Fibrocystic breasts treatment is directed at the individual components of the condition, including the relief of symptoms (such as breast pain and tenderness) and the correction of hormonal irregularities:

  • Relief of symptoms: Some simple measures, such as adequate support of the breasts and perhaps wearing a bra at night, may provide relief from many of the symptoms of fibrocystic breast condition. Anti-inflammatory medications, including acetaminophen and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs), often reduce the breast pain significantly.
  • Hormonal irregularities: Some women with very irregular menstrual cycles seem to progressively suffer more severe fibrocystic breast condition. This tendency is most likely due to the prolonged and irregular hormonal stimulation of the breasts. In these patients, it is sometimes helpful to establish menstrual cycle regularity with oral contraceptives. Regular cycles seem to allow the breast tissue to recover more completely at the end of each menstrual cycle.
    In patients who have had a hysterectomy and who are on hormone therapy, it may be helpful to be “off estrogen” for five days during each monthly cycle rather than remain on continuous estrogen. Again, this schedule is designed to avoid the continuous stimulation of the breast tissues by estrogen. It is important that any such hormone regulation be under the direct supervision of a physician.
    Certain common hormonal (endocrine) abnormalities, such as diabetes or thyroid dysfunction, may contribute to fibrocystic breast condition. Since these conditions may aggravate the symptoms of fibrocystic breast condition, they should be diagnosed and treated.
  • Studies have shown some benefit from the short term use of the antiestrogenic drug Tamoxifen in relieving breast pain. However, tamoxifen use may be associated with a number of adverse effects, especially in postmenopausal women, and its use should be limited to the short term. Likewise, the androgenic steroid drug Danazol (Danocrine) has also been shown to reduce breast pain and nodule size in women with fibrocystic breast condition. Danazol is also associated with a number of side effects. Both of these medications may be considered for use in women with severe cyclical breast pain due to fibrocystic condition.
Fibrocystic breasts

Fibrocystic breasts

Fibrocystic breasts prognosis

There is no increased risk of cancer. Symptoms usually improve after menopause.

Fibrocystic breasts Prevention

There is no proof that anything you do or don’t do will prevent symptoms.

Reducing the amount of fat and caffeine in your diet may help reduce symptoms, although studies have questioned their role in the disease.

Fibrocystic breasts easy prevention – wear a well-fitting bra or consider braless and give your breasts a freedom.

Fibrocystic breasts at a Glance

  • Fibrocystic breasts is a condition of lumpiness in one or both breasts.
  • Breast tenderness or pains are usually present in fibrocystic breasts.
  • Fibrocystic breasts are very common and benign condition.
  • Normal hormonal variation during the menstrual cycle is the primary contributing factor to fibrocystic breasts.
  • Fibrocystic breasts condition is a cumulative process that mainly affects women over 30.
  • The foremost concern is not fibrocystic breasts themself but the threat of breast cancer.
  • The lumps in fibrocystic breast can mimic and mask breast cancer.
  • Recommended measures for women with fibrocystic breast include: Learning about fibrocystic breasts and its symptoms; Learning breast self-examination; Having regular breast exams by a doctor; and Having regular breast imaging (mammograms).
  • Treatment of fibrocystic breast aims at the relief of breast pain and tenderness and correction of menstrual irregularities.

Check fibrocystic breasts causes, risk groups and symptoms on next page.


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