Many young women have breast changes and often wonder it is a cancer. One common disorder which frequently causes apprehension in women is fibrocystic breast disease. Fibrocystic breasts feel very lumpy, rough and have an uneven feel. Physicians often describe fibrocystic breasts as glandular but what is to be understood that this type of a breast is not a disease, just a variation of breast texture. It is not unusual to have fibrocystic breast. Estimates indicate that more than 50% of women have fibrocystic breast at some point in their lives. Fibrocystic breasts may cause pain or tenderness, fluctuations in breast size and a non bloody discharge in some women. Some women develop breast pain during the middle of their cycle or just before the onset of the menstrual period.
Fibrocystic breast changes are most common in women in the second decade of life and up to early menopause. Fibrocystic breast changes generally develop slowly and peak at around the 2-3rd decade of life. It is very rare for a post menopausal female to develop changes in breast unless she is on sex hormonal therapy.
All females should understand that fibrocystic changes are normal and not cancerous. Why fibrocystic changes occur is not known but there is a link to the sex hormone, estrogen. When examined under a microscope, the fibrocystic breast appears with sacs filled with fluid. Often there are thick fibrous bands around the milk ducts. Having fibrocystic disease does not increase the risk of cancer unless one has atypical changes in the cells lining the breast lobules. There are also breast changes in pregnancy and most of these women have a prior history of fibrocystic disease. Breast enlargement is also a normal consequence of pregnancy and resolves once the baby has delivered.
The diagnosis of fibrocystic disease can be made on a physical exam. However, most doctors will order an ultrasound or perform a breast biopsy to confirm the diagnosis
There is absolutely no need for treatment of fibrocystic breast if there are no symptoms. Sometimes the painful cyst can be aspirated with a needle to remove the fluid. Surgery is rarely required unless the doctor feels that there is a suspicious mass.
Other treatment options include the following:
Some women may benefit from the use of over the counter pain relievers like Advil or Motrin.
Oral contraceptives have also been shown to decrease the fibrocystic changes and symptoms
Danazol which mimics the actions of a male sex hormone, testosterone, was once used in the past to treat fibrocystic disease but because of its side effects, it is seldom used today.
Other home remedies that may help reduce symptoms of fibrocystic disease include wearing a firm support bra both during exercise and sleep. Some doctors recommend a decrease in caffeine containing beverages which may help reduce pain. Women who have fibrocystic disease should reduce fat content in their diet. This recommendation is known to not only reduce symptoms but also improve the figure.
Finally, any female over the age of forty who has sudden breast changes should always see a physician to ensure that there is nothing sinister growing.