Patient Education

Billings OBGYN

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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.

Symptoms:

  • 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.

Treatment:

  • 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.