Fibrocystic breasts are breast that take on a lumpy, bumpy feel on exam. It is due to the tissue in the breast and is very normal. In fact, more than half to two-thirds of all women will experience fibrocystic breast changes at some point in their lives. It can be a source of breast pain and tenderness and is usually self limiting.
- Symptoms: Symptoms of fibrocystic breasts include:
- Breast lumps or areas of thickening
- Breast pain or tenderness
- Fluctuating size of breast lumps
- In some cases, nonbloody nipple discharge
- Changes usually occur in both breasts
- Monthly increase in breast pain or lumpiness from midcycle to just before your period.
- Causes: The exact cause of fibrocystic breast changes isn’t known, but experts suspect that reproductive hormones especially estrogen-play a role. When examined under a microscope, fibrocystic breast tissue includes distinct components such as:
- Fluid filled round or oval sacs (cysts)
- A prominence of fibrous tissue (similar to scar tissue)
- Overgrowth of cells (hyperplasia) lining the milk ducts or milk-producing tissues (lobules) of the breast
- Enlarged breast lobules (adenosis)
- Risk factors: Having fibrocystic breasts does not increase your risk of breast cancer. However, if you find a new lump or area of thickening, or if a previously evaluated breast lump seems to have grown or otherwise changed, make an appointment with your doctor to get it checked out.