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Fibrocystic Breasts

Fibrocystic breasts are painful, lumpy breasts. Formerly called fibrocystic breast disease, this common condition is, in fact, not a disease. Many women experience these normal breast changes, usually around their period. 

Symptoms of fibrocystic breasts are usually felt in both breasts. The most common symptoms are:

  • lumps or lumpy areas in the breast

  • breast pain or tenderness

  • breast swelling or heaviness


The exact cause of fibrocystic breast changes isn't known, but experts suspect that reproductive hormones — especially estrogen — play a role. Fluctuating hormone levels during the menstrual cycle can cause breast discomfort and areas of lumpy breast tissue that feel tender, sore and swollen.


Most often, fibrocystic changes are diagnosed based on symptoms, such as breast lumps, swelling, and/or tenderness or pain. These symptoms tend to be worse just before your menstrual period, and they may change (such as the lumps growing or shrinking) during different stages of your menstrual cycle. 


They may go away or become less noticeable after menopause. There is no known cure for these breast changes, but they are not harmful and rarely develop into breast cancer. 


Fibrocystic breast changes do not generally increase your risk for breast cancer. However, if you have a family history of breast cancer and fibrocystic changes, there is a small increase in the risk.


Try breast massage: A simple massage can relieve much of the pressure and pain that can accompany fibrocystic breasts. It also stimulates flow of lymph fluid. 

Fibrocystic Breast Changes

What is the Difference Between a Breast Cyst and Fibrocystic Breasts?

Fibrocystic breast syndrome is when women develop breast pain and tender nodules throughout their breast tissue. While most breast cysts are localized and feel like a single mass causing pain in one particular spot, fibrocystic breast syndrome is a different process. It can occur in both breasts and it is spread throughout the breasts.

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