Fibrocystic Breast Disease: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Diet

What Is Fibrocystic Breast Disease?

Fibrocystic Breast Disease which is also known by the name of Fibrocystic Breasts is a pathological condition of the breasts in which there is development of benign lumps in the breasts. This condition is not harmful although it may cause some discomfort to the woman. It is estimated that around 60% of all women develop this condition at some point in their lives. Although Fibrocystic Breast Disease is quite a common condition and is not harmful in any way but it tends to make it difficult for physicians to diagnose breast cancer.

Fibrocystic Breast Disease

What Are The Causes Of Fibrocystic Breast Disease?

The breast tissues in females undergo changes continuously responding to the hormones produced by the ovaries. If a female has Fibrocystic Breast Disease then these changes are more pronounced than normally causing development of painful lumps in the breasts. Symptoms are experienced during or immediately before the beginning of a menstrual period. The female may feel lumps in the breasts which may look like cysts. There may be swelling of the breast lobules. The female may also observe thickening of the breast tissues due to excessive growth of fibrous tissues in the breasts.

What Are The Symptoms Of Fibrocystic Breast Disease?

If a female has Fibrocystic Breast Disease, then she may experience the following symptoms:

  • Swelling in one or both breasts
  • Tenderness in one or both breasts
  • Pain
  • Observation of lumps in one or both breasts.

The formation of the lumps may be irregular meaning that the number of lumps formed in one breast may be different than the number of lumps formed in the other breast. There will be worsening of symptoms during or immediately before the start of the menstrual period but symptoms may be present always. There may be changes in the size of the lumps also. These lumps are usually mobile but at times due to excessive fibrous tissue growth, the lumps may not be able to be moved. The individual may experience pain in the underarms. There may be a discharge from the breasts. It is advised that if a female notices bloody discharge from the nipples to contact her physician or visit the nearest emergency room immediately as it sometimes is an indication of breast cancer.

Can Fibrocystic Breast Disease Lead To Cancer?

Having Fibrocystic Breast Disease does not mean that an individual becomes predisposed to developing breast cancer, although it definitely is difficult for physician’s to diagnose a breast cancer in a woman who has Fibrocystic Breast Disease. It may become difficult to differentiate between cancerous and benign lumps during mammography. There may be formation of some lumps which may look to be cancerous and may require a biopsy to rule it out. In case if a female is diagnosed with Fibrocystic Breast Disease, then it is always advisable to go for regular breast examinations with mammography. It is highly recommended that women above the age of 50 should have a mammogram every year. Females should also learn from their physicians on how to conduct self breast examinations. It is also important for females to be aware of any changes in their breast, for which they need to contact their physician for a detailed instruction on how to identify any changes in their breasts.

How Is Fibrocystic Breast Disease Diagnosed?

In order to diagnose Fibrocystic Breast Disease, to begin with treating physician will conduct a detailed physical examination of the breasts. The physician will also order a mammography or an ultrasound to analyze the changes to the breasts tissues more closely. If any cancerous lumps are suspected on the scans, then the physician will then conduct a biopsy of the suspected lump to rule out or rule in a cancer of the breasts.

What Are The Treatments For Fibrocystic Breast Disease?

Normally, Fibrocystic Breast Disease does not require any specific treatment. Home remedies are good enough to control pain and discomfort caused by this condition. It is very rare that a pharmacological intervention is required for Fibrocystic Breast Disease. Treatment for Fibrocystic Breast Disease includes:

Home Treatment For Fibrocystic Breast Disease: Using over the counter pain medication like Tylenol or Advil to control pain and discomfort caused due to Fibrocystic Breast Disease is normally sufficient and effective. One can also try a supportive bra which can also help in controlling pain and discomfort and to help with some of the tenderness. Application of warm and cold compresses is also helpful to relieve pain and swelling. This can be done by using a heating pad or ice wrapped in a cloth and applying it to the area of swelling and tenderness for 15 to 20 minutes two to three times a day.

Medical Intervention: It is rare but at times medical intervention is required to control symptoms of Fibrocystic Breast Disease. In case if the pain is severe and is not controlled by over the counter medications a visit to the treating physician to help relieve the symptoms is advisable. Some of the treatments that are done for Fibrocystic Breast Disease are using birth control pills to control production of hormones and in turn helping with the fibrous tissue growth in the breasts. The physician may also do a fine needle aspiration in order to drain the fluid from the lumps for pain relief due to the cysts in the breasts. In case if aspiration is not helpful in relieving the symptoms then the cysts may be removed using surgical techniques to help control the symptoms.

Does Dietary Modification Help With Fibrocystic Breast Disease?

Some researchers are of the opinion that certain dietary changes may help with the symptoms of Fibrocystic Breast Disease. It is opined that if the affected individual limits caffeine intake, eats a low-fat diet, and takes fatty acid supplements then it goes a long way in controlling the symptoms of Fibrocystic Breast Disease, although the efficacy of this is still not proved as of now.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:January 19, 2019

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