Fibrocystic breast disease: Another cause of breast lumpsMonday, August 05, 2013
BY NADINE WILSON All Woman writer email@example.com
A lump in the breast is usually a scary symptom for women because breast cancer has claimed so many lives over the years. But that lumpiness and tenderness you feel in your breasts prior to your monthly period is not something you should be overly worried about, although it's good to be cautious.
This is because breast pain, tenderness and lumpiness could be a result of fibrocystic breast disease, which is non-cancerous and can be addressed with some basic self-care measures. This condition is very common and is believed to be caused by hormonal influences from the menstrual cycle.
"The excess hormones produced by the ovaries after ovulation usually cause the breasts to become fuller, nodular or lumpy and quite tender," explained obstetrician and gynaecologist Dr Sharmaine Mitchell, who noted that this condition affects about 50 per cent of women. "Many women present with a history of breast pain, tenderness and nodularity, or a lumpy feeling in the breast. The symptoms tend to be most severe just before the onset of the menstrual period," she said.
Fibrocystic breast disease is known by several other names including diffuse cystic mastopathy, mammary dysplasia, fibrocystic mastopathy and chronic cystic mastitis. The lumps accompanying this disease are often found in the upper and outer section of the breast which is nearest to the armpit, and often affects women between the ages of 20 to 45 years old. It rarely occurs in menopausal women unless they are doing hormone replacement therapy.
"As a general rule, patients with chronic or frequent episodes of breast pain usually have the pain in general decreasing as the patient's age increases," Dr Mitchell said.
"In young patients the breast pain usually improves without any intervention," she explained.
Women with fibrocystic breast changes oftentimes experience itchy and tender nipples as well. In order to diagnose the disease, doctors usually conduct a clinical breast exam. They might also do a mammography to determine the cause for the lump as well as carry out an x-ray.
"A breast ultrasound may be quite helpful in reassuring you that there is nothing serious happening in the breasts," said Dr Mitchell.
Although fibrocystic breast changes do not increase a woman's risk of having breast cancer, women are encouraged to see their health practitioner if they notice they are experiencing flattening or indentation of the nipple, bloody nipple discharge, or if the lump in their breast seems fixed to the tissue instead of being able to move around.
The pain associated with fibrocystic breast disease usually subsides after the period, or lasts for about a month at most. Doctors usually prescribe over-the-counter medication and in more severe cases, birth control tablets.