Fibrocystic breasts: Symptoms and causes

Overview

Fibrocystic breast changes. Fibrocystic breast changes lead to the development of fluid-filled round or oval sacs (cysts) and more prominent scar-like (fibrous) tissue, which can make breasts feel tender, lumpy or ropy.

Fibrocystic breasts are composed of tissue that feels lumpy or rope-like in texture. Doctors call this nodular or glandular breast tissue.

It’s not at all uncommon to have fibrocystic breasts. More than half of women experience fibrocystic breast changes at some point in their lives. In fact, medical professionals have stopped using the term “fibrocystic breast disease” and now simply refer to “fibrocystic breasts” or “fibrocystic breast changes” because having fibrocystic breasts isn’t really a disease. Breast changes categorized as fibrocystic are considered normal.

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Although many women with fibrocystic breasts don’t have symptoms, some women experience breast pain, tenderness and lumpiness — especially in the upper, outer area of the breasts. Breast symptoms tend to be most bothersome just before menstruation. Simple self-care measures can usually relieve discomfort associated with fibrocystic breasts.

Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of fibrocystic breasts may include:

  • Breast lumps or areas of thickening that tend to blend into the surrounding breast tissue
  • Generalized breast pain or tenderness
  • Breast lumps that fluctuate in size with the menstrual cycle
  • Green or dark brown nonbloody nipple discharge that tends to leak without pressure or squeezing
  • Breast changes that are similar in both breasts
  • Monthly increase in breast pain or lumpiness from midcycle (ovulation) to just before your period
READ:   Fibrocystic breasts

Fibrocystic breast changes occur most often in women in their 20s to 50s. Rarely do postmenopausal women experience fibrocystic breast changes, unless they’re on hormone therapy.

When to see a doctor

Most fibrocystic breast changes are normal. However, make an appointment with your doctor if:

  • You find a new breast lump or area of prominent thickening
  • You have specific areas of continuous or worsening breast pain
  • Breast changes persist after your period
  • Your doctor evaluated a breast lump but now it seems to be bigger or otherwise changed

Causes

Breast anatomy. Each breast contains 15 to 20 lobes of glandular tissue, arranged like the petals of a daisy. The lobes are further divided into smaller lobules that produce milk for breast-feeding. Small tubes (ducts) conduct the milk to a reservoir that lies just beneath your nipple.

The exact cause of fibrocystic breast changes isn’t known, but experts suspect that reproductive hormones — especially estrogen — play a role.

READ:   Fibrosis and Simple Cysts in the Breast

Fluctuating hormone levels during your menstrual cycle can cause breast discomfort and areas of lumpy breast tissue that feel tender, sore and swollen. Fibrocystic breast changes tend to be more bothersome before your menstrual period, and the pain and lumpiness tends to clear up or lessen once your menstrual period begins.

When examined under a microscope, fibrocystic breast tissue includes distinct components such as:

  • Fluid-filled round or oval sacs (cysts)
  • A prominence of scar-like fibrous tissue (fibrosis)
  • Overgrowth of cells (hyperplasia) lining the milk ducts or milk-producing tissues (lobules) of the breast
  • Enlarged breast lobules (adenosis)

Risk factors

Having fibrocystic breasts doesn’t increase your risk of breast cancer.

READ:   Fibrocystic breasts
Fibrocystic breasts ICD-9: 610.1 Description Fibrocystic breasts are breasts with palpable lumps or cysts that fluctuate in size with the menstrual cycle. The condition is seen more frequently in women ages 30 to 55 and rarely after menopause. Fibrocystic breast tissue exhibits fluid-filled round or oval cysts, fibrosis, and hyperplasia of the cells lining the milk ducts or lobules of the breast. Fibrocystic breasts are fairly common; more than half of women experience fibrocystic breast changes at some point in their lives. Medical professionals stopped using the term fibrocystic breast disease because fibrocystic breasts are not considered a disease. FIGURE. Fibrocystic breast illustrating fibroadenoma. Etiology The causes of fibrocystic breasts are not well understood, but they are linked to the hormonal changes associated with ovarian activity. There is a tendency for fibrocystic breasts to run in families. Signs and Symptoms There may be widespread lumpiness or a localized mass, us...
Fibrosis and Simple Cysts in the Breast Many breast lumps turn out to be caused by fibrosis and/or cysts, which are non-cancerous (benign) changes in breast tissue that happen in many women at some time in their lives. These changes are sometimes called fibrocystic changes, and used to be called fibrocystic disease. Fibrosis and/or cysts are most common in women of child-bearing age, but they can affect women of any age. They may be found in different parts of the breast and in both breasts at the same time. Fibrosis Fibrosis refers to a large amount of fibrous tissue, the same tissue that ligaments and scar tissue are made of. Areas of fibrosis feel rubbery, firm, or hard to the touch. Cysts A round, movable lump, which might also be tender to the touch, suggests a cyst. Cysts are fluid-filled, round or oval sacs within the breasts. They are most often found in women in their 40s, but they can occur in women of any age. Monthly hormone changes often cause cysts to get bigger and become painful and sometimes more noti...
Fibrocystic Breast Disease: Signs, Symptoms, and Treatment Understanding Fibrocystic Breast Disease Fibrocystic breast disease, like fibroids, PMS, and menstrual irregularities are all parts of the continuum of estrogen excess in your body. Fibrocystic breast disease tends to be one of the first symptoms of estrogen dominance. It can affect women of 20 to 50 years and even teenagers. Let’s take a step back so that we can understand the concept of fibrocystic breast disease. When you are growing, estrogen is very necessary. It is most of the time balanced with progesterone. When your body produces estrogen in excess, it flows into different tissues of your body, including the breast, and then the fibrocystic breast disease can become an issue. Fibrocystic breast disease is a type of condition that causes breast pain, non-cancerous breast lumps, and cysts. Most young girls begin their menstruation at the age of 10 nowadays even though historically, the menstruation period began between ages 14 and 16 as recently as one generation ago. Men...