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  • Michael Frey, MD

Fibrocystic breasts

Fibrocystic breast changes are common, with up to 80% of women experiencing symptoms at some point in their life. While common, fibrocystic breasts is not dangerous and non-cancerous. It is not even a disease. It is simply a normal change in breast tissue that many women experience.

Symptoms

  • Pain or discomfort in both breasts that may come and go with your period, but may last through the whole month

  • Breasts that feel full, swollen, or heavy

  • Pain or discomfort under the arms

  • Breast lumps that change in size with the menstrual period

You may have a lump in the same area of the breast that becomes larger before each period and returns to its original size afterward. This type of lump moves when it is pushed with your fingers. It does not feel stuck or fixed to the tissue around it. This type of lump is common with fibrocystic breasts.

Exams and Tests If you are over 40, you should have a mammogram to screen for breast cancer. For women under 35, a breast ultrasound may be used to look more closely at breast tissue. You may need further tests if a lump was found during a breast exam or your mammogram result was abnormal.

If the lump appears to be a cyst, your provider may aspirate the lump with a needle, which confirms the lump was a cyst and sometimes may improve the symptoms. For other types of lumps, another mammogram and breast ultrasound may be done. If these exams are normal but your provider still has concerns about a lump, a biopsy may be performed.


How Are Fibrocystic Breasts Treated?

  • Evening primrose oil. This supplement may reduce breast pain. In one study found EPO, used for 6 months, resulted in reduced breast pain. It can be bought from health stores, pharmacies, and online. If you are pregnant or hoping to become pregnant, Don't take Evening Primrose oil.

  • Vitamin E: In one study, the use of Vitamin E for 6 months reduced breast pain. In another study, Vitamin E reduced breast pain with a dose of 200 IU twice daily.

  • Decrease the fat in your diet: which may decrease breast pain or discomfort associated with fibrocystic breasts.

  • Use a heating pad or warm water bottle to relieve your discomfort.

  • Diclofenac sodium 1% gel (Voltaren Arthritis Pain) - available as an OTC arthritis medication; this can be used on the breast to provide pain relief.

  • Adjust birth control pills. If you take birth control pills, skipping the pill-free week or switching birth control methods may help with breast pain symptoms.

  • Wear a well-fitting bra or sports bra




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