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Fibrocystic breasts


Disease: Fibrocystic breasts Fibrocystic breasts
Category: Breast Diseases

Disease Definition:

Fibrocystic breasts are composed of “nodular” or “glandular” breast tissue, which is tissue that feels ropy, lumpy or bumpy in texture.


Having fibrocystic breasts is quite common. In some point in their lives, more than half women experience fibrocystic breast changes. Because having fibrocystic breasts isn’t really a disease at all, medical professionals have stopped using the term “fibrocystic breast disease” and it’s now simply called “fibrocystic breasts” or “fibrocystic breast changes”.


Despite the fact that the breast changes that are categorized as “fibrocystic breasts” are quite normal, however, they could still cause breast tenderness and pain. The discomfort that is associated with fibrocystic breasts could alleviate by simple self-care measures.

Work Group:

Symptoms, Causes


Some of the signs and symptoms of fibrocystic breasts are:


  • Breast pain or tenderness
  • Changes, which usually occur in both breasts
  • Breast lumps or areas of thickening
  • In some cases, non-bloody nipple discharge
  • Fluctuating size of breast lumps
  • Monthly increase in breast pain or lumpiness from midcycle (ovulation) to just before the period.


Mostly, fibrocystic breast changes occur in women in their 20s to 50s. In some rare cases, postmenopausal women experience fibrocystic breast changes, unless they’re on hormone therapy.


Even though most fibrocystic breast changes are quite normal, however, a woman should see her doctor in case she finds a new breast lump or area of thickening, or if a previously evaluated breast lump seems to have changed, or grown.


Although experts suspect that reproductive hormones play a role, particularly estrogen; however, the exact cause of fibrocystic breast changes is not known.


When a fibrocystic breast tissue is examined under a microscope, these distinct components will be seen:


  • Enlarged breast lobules (adenosis)
  • 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.





No treatment is needed for fibrocystic breasts in case a woman experiences mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. However, treatment is necessary in case a woman experiences sever pain, or large and painful cysts that are associated with fibrocystic breasts.


Some of the treatment options for cysts may include:

Fine-needle aspiration:

In order to drain the fluid from the cyst, a hair-thin needle is used. The lump will be confirmed as a breast cyst in case the associated discomfort is relieved after its removal.

Surgical excision:

In some rare cases, if a persistent cyst-like lump doesn’t resolve after repeated aspiration and careful monitoring, surgery might be needed.


Some of the treatment options for pain are:


  • Ibuprofe, acetaminophen or other over-the-counter pain relievers.
  • Oral contraceptives in order to lower the levels of cycle-related hormones that are linked to fibrocystic breast changes.
  • A prescription medication called danazol, which mimics a male sex hormone, and could relieve severe breast pain. However, its use is limited because some of its significant side effects include acne and excess body hair.


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