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Fibrocystic Breasts 

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.