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Fibrocystic Breast Changes in Women

written by: DulceCorazon • edited by: Emma Lloyd • updated: 8/26/2010

Fibrocystic breast changes are common in women. These can cause pain and discomfort, as well as apprehension about breast cancer. To allay this apprehension, it is important to be examined by a physician and be diagnosed.

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    Overview

    Fibrocystic breast changes are lumps or bumps that are felt in the breasts. These lumps usually cause discomfort and pain, but the condition is not a serious threat to the health. It is related to the menstrual cycle's hormonal influences and it affects approximately 30 to 60% of all women.

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    Causes

    There is no exact cause of this condition, but it is known to be related to several possible causes. The most common culprit is often blamed on the hormonal variation that occurs during the monthly menstrual cycle of women, which is just normal.

    The hormonal variation during the menstrual cycle that includes progesterone and estrogen causes cells to multiply and grow in breast tissues. This growth and multiplication of cells regularly happens and if it happens often enough, it will cause certain areas in the breast to become dense, thereby increasing in size and producing the lumps. These lumps often appear in women's breasts usually between the ages of 20 to 50 years old. Women who have started menopause may no longer be susceptible to this condition due to the absence of ovarian hormones brought about by menopause.

    Other possible causes are include dietary fat levels, family history and caffeine intake.

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    Diagnosis

    It is best to see a doctor and have the lump examined if ever one is found in the breast. The doctor may need to examine the breast for physical changes, nipple discharges, and feel for lymph nodes in the area including the armpit. Some test may also be done, such as mammography, ultrasound or breast biopsy. Through these, physicians may be able to determine if the lumps on a woman's breast is just fibrocystic breast or something more serious, like breast cancer.

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    Symptoms

    Finding or palpating a lump in a woman's breast area may indicate the presence of fibrocystic breast lumps or other breast conditions. The lump is often characterized by a cobblestone texture with smooth and defined edges. When touched, it may move freely in relation to its surrounding tissues. Aside from the pain, this condition may also be accompanied by greenish non-bloody discharge from the nipple. If these signs come and go with the menstrual cycle, it is frequently a strong indication of the condition. To make sure of this, a visit to the doctor is recommended as it may also be an indication of something more serious.

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    Management

    In most cases, when a diagnosis of fibrocystic breast changes is given, there is not much cause for concern. No treatment is usually given, except when pain is felt, then pain medications may also be prescribed. However, if the lumps become too big, it may cause fluid to build up in the lump which can be painful and uncomfortable. It can be relieved by draining the fluid using a very fine needle.

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