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Other Names:
Cystic Breast, Mammary Dysplasia, Benign Breast Disease
Fibrocystic Breast

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Definition

Fibrocystic breast is characterized by common cystic changes in the breast that are benign (non-cancerous) and may be considered a normal variant in some women.

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Causes

  • Definitive cause is not known
  • These changes have been associated with ovarian hormones (estrogen and progesterone) as the consistency of the breasts changes during menstruation.
  • Excessive intake of dietary fat and caffeine
  • Family history of fibrocystic breast changes

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Symptoms

  • Breast discomfort, dull pain or tenderness usually before the start of menstrual period.
  • A dense and ropey consistency of the breast tissue usually more marked in the upper and outer quadrant.
  • Breasts feel full and heavy
  • Nipple itching

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Implications

Fibrocystic changes in the breast are completely benign however, it may be extremely difficult and confusing to interpret breast lumps or early cancerous leisions on breast self examination. This problem may be worrisome and a cause of immense anxiety in most women as normal fibrocystic changes may be misinterpreted as early cancerous changes and cause false alarm. Mammography may be difficult to report due to dense tissue and occasionally early cancerous leisions may be overlooked.

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What You Can Do

  • Vitamin E, vitamin B6 and evening Primrose oil have shown to be beneficial in relieving some of the symptoms.

  • Restricting fat and caffeine in your diet can be helpful.

  • Wear a tight fitting bra to provide support to your breasts

  • Perform a monthly self breast examination to get familiar with the consistency of your breasts.

  • A baseline mammogram is recommended at age 40.

  • Synthetic androgens or oral contraceptives may be helpful to alleviate the symptoms however, their use in this condition is controversial due to the potential adverse effects.

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Fibrocystic Breast