Fibrocystic Disease

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​Fibrocystic disease causes lumps in your breasts. You might think you have breast cancer. But fibrocystic disease is harmless. In fact, almost all women get some form of it. Most don't need or seek treatment.

But if the pain gets to be too much, we can help. Strategies include:

  • Pain relievers
  • Hormone medications for severe cases
  • Applying a heating pad
  • Wearing a supportive bra
  • Changing your diet, such as avoiding caffeine
cysts in breast diagram
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What Causes Breast Cysts?

Fibrocystic disease builds up scar-like tissue around fluid-filled cystic lumps of duct tissue. These lumps will appear and disappear, along with your period. That's the first clue that these lumps aren't cancer.

This cycle happens because the tissue grows to prepare for a pregnancy. It shrinks if one doesn't occur. This cycling causes cysts and excess fibrous tissue to build up. That's why most fibrocystic pain happens at the end of your period.

Diagnosing Fibrocystic Disease

Doctors may have difficulty telling the difference between this condition and breast cancer. Sometimes we'll need to do tests to make sure.

Aspiration

After numbing the area with a local anesthetic, your doctor inserts a small needle into the lump. This draws fluid out.

If the lump disappears, it is probably not cancer. If the lump remains, or if the fluid withdrawn is bloody, we'll need to do further tests.

Biopsy

We can do one of two types of biopsies.

A fine-needle biopsy is nearly identical to an aspiration. The only difference is that a tiny piece of tissue is also drawn out of the lump.

An excisional biopsy removes the entire lump through a surgical incision. If the lump is small and close to the surface, we can do this in the clinic with local anesthesia.

 

Content was created using EBSCO’s Health Library. Edits to original content made by Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia. This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice.