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.

READ:   Fibrocystic Breast Disease: Signs, Symptoms, and Treatment

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 noticeable just before the menstrual period.

Cysts begin when fluid starts to build up inside the breast glands. Microcysts (tiny, microscopic cysts) are too small to feel and are found only when tissue is looked at under a microscope. If fluid continues to build up, macrocysts (large cysts) can form. These can be felt easily and can be as large as 1 or 2 inches across.

READ:   Fibrocystic breasts: Symptoms and causes

Diagnosis

Most often, fibrocystic changes are diagnosed based on symptoms, such as breast lumps, swelling, and/or tenderness or pain. These symptoms tend to be worse just before your menstrual period begins, and may change as you move through different stages of your menstrual cycle. Your breasts may feel lumpy and, sometimes, you may notice a clear or slightly cloudy nipple discharge.

Sometimes, one of the lumps might feel firmer or have other features that lead to a concern about cancer. When this happens, an ultrasound may be done to see if the lump is solid or is just filled with fluid (called a simple cyst). If the ultrasound shows the lump is solid or if the cyst has both fluid and solid components (a complex cyst), a biopsy may be needed to make sure that it’s not cancer.

READ:   Fibrocystic breasts

How do fibrosis and simple cysts affect your risk for breast cancer?

Neither fibrosis nor simple cysts increase your risk of later developing breast cancer. Complex cysts are more of a concern, as there is a small chance they might contain cancer or put you at risk of cancer later on, depending on what is found at the time of biopsy.

Treatment

Cyst fluid doesn’t need to be removed unless it’s causing discomfort. But it can be drained by putting a thin, hollow needle into the cyst, which might be done to confirm the diagnosis. Removing the fluid may reduce pressure and pain for some time. If removed, the fluid might come back later, but cysts may also go away over time. For cysts that continue to come back and cause symptoms, surgery to remove them might be an option.

READ:   Fibrocystic breasts: Symptoms and causes

Most women with fibrocystic changes and without bothersome symptoms do not need treatment, but they might be watched closely. If you have mild discomfort from fibrosis, you may get relief from well-fitted, supportive bras, applying heat, or using over-the-counter pain relievers.

Some women report that their breast symptoms improve if they avoid caffeine and other stimulants found in coffee, tea, chocolate, and many soft drinks. Studies have not found that these stimulants cause these symptoms, but many women feel that avoiding these foods and drinks for a couple of months is worth trying.

Because breast swelling toward the end of the menstrual cycle is painful for some women, some doctors recommend pain relievers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, or other medicines. It’s been suggested that some types of vitamin or herbal supplements might relieve symptoms, but so far none have been proven to be helpful, and some may have side effects if taken in large doses. Some doctors prescribe hormones, such as oral contraceptives (birth control pills), tamoxifen, or androgens. But these are usually given only to women with severe symptoms because they also can have serious side effects.

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...
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. 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...
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...