More than three million women are affected by Fibrocystic Breast Changes (formally known as Fibrocystic Breast Disease).
What is Fibrocystic Breast Changes?
Fibrocystic Breast Changes is a benign condition which typically occurs in women between 20-50 years of age. It is almost never seen in post-menopausal women. This condition is described as “lumpy,” painful breast tissue that often corresponds with a women’s menstrual cycle. Lumpy breast tissue can feel “rope like” and is mobile when touched or pressed.
Causes: The direct cause of Fibrocystic Breast Changes is unknown. The general scientific explanation is thought to involve hormone changes during a women’s menstrual cycle.
- Pain or discomfort in both breasts.
- Pain that comes and goes around the menstrual cycle.
- Breasts may feel swollen or heavy.
- Pain may be experienced under the arms.
- Thick or lumpy breasts.
- Lumpy tissue often changes, especially during menstruation.
- Lumpy tissue is soft and mobile.
Diagnosis: It’s important to be properly diagnosed by a healthcare provider. Diagnosis will include a clinical breast exam and discussion about breast tissue findings. In some cases, additional testing or imaging may be necessary.
- Mild symptoms often require no treatment.
- Painful symptoms will often respond to over the counter medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
- Heat or ice applied to the breast can help alleviate discomfort.
- Tight fitting bras or sports bras can also be effective.
- Supplements such as vitamin E, thiamine or magnesium have some benefit. These should be discussed with your healthcare provider prior to starting.
- Caffeine has been identified as a possible contributor to Fibrocystic Breast Changes. Decreased caffeine is also recommended.
Fibrocystic Breast Changes is a benign condition and does not increase the risk of breast cancer. It’s important to follow-up with a health care provider if any breast changes are found.