Fibrocystic breast disease

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Fibrocystic breast are characterized by the presence of viscous tissue, cysts or nodules, and their texture is abnormal. It is unusual for a woman to have fibrocystic breasts.

Over half of women have fibrocystic breast changes at some point in their lives. In fact, fibrocystic breasts are not really a disease.

Even though, changes in the breasts, called fibrosis, are normal, they can cause pain and localized cysts may occur, especially in the upper, outside them. Symptoms tend to be stressed especially before menstruation. Simple self-care measures can alleviate the discomfort associated with fibrocystic breasts.


1. Overview
2. What causes fibrocystic breasts?
3. Symptoms, signs and investigations
4. Treatment

What causes fibrocystic breasts?

Fibrocystic breast disease involves glandular breast tissue. The only known biological function of this gland is the production or secretion of milk.

Glandular tissue occupies much of the breast and is surrounded by fatty tissue and supporting elements. Glandular tissue is composed of different cell types: secretory cells (those that produce milk), which are connected to galactophorous ducts and the cells that cover the secreting cells surface, called epithelial cells.

The most important factor that could contribute to fibrocystic breast condition of women is hormonal variation, typical during her monthly cycle. Many hormonal changes that occur in a woman’s body prepares each month for a possible pregnancy. The most important hormones are estrogen and progesterone.

These two hormones directly affect mammary tissues by stimulating growth and cell growth. And other hormones except the estrogen and progesterone play an important role in triggering breast cystic fibrosis. Prolactin, growth factor, insulin, thyroid hormone and other important hormones that are produced outside the breast tissue, have an important action on the breast.

In addition, the breast produces hormones through glandular cells and those of fat tissue. Signals issued by the production of these hormones are sent to neighboring breast cells and may contribute to symptoms of fibrocystic breast specific. These substances emphasize the effects of estrogen and progesterone and vice versa.

In a cyclical basis, the same hormones that prepare the glandular tissue of the breast, for this to produce milk, are responsible for the onset of menstruation of women. However, there is a difference between what happens in the breast and what happens to the uterus.

In the womb, these hormones stimulate the growth and multiplication of the lining uterus cells. If pregnancy is not formed, the lining is removed from the woman’s body during menstruation. The same hormones stimulate the glandular breast tissue growth and intensify the blood vessels activity, cell metabolism and tissue support.

All these activities could contribute to the heaviness of the breast and fluid retention, common events, usually before menstruation. While the lining of the uterus is removed, many breast cells undergo programmed death process called apoptosis.

During apoptosis, the enzymes are activated and the process of destruction of glandular tissue cells begins. They decompose and result in cell fragments that are then decomposed by the surrounding inflammatory cells and glandular cells.

During this process, broken fragments of cells and inflammation can cause scarring (fibrosis), affecting the mammary ducts and glandular tissue lobes. Inflammatory cells and some broken fragments may release substances similar to hormones that act on ductal, glandular and structural cells.

Quantity of products resulting from decomposition cell, the degree of inflammation and efficient cleaning process in the breast varies from woman to woman. In addition to that, these factors can be volatile from month to month at the same women.

Symptoms, signs and investigations

Symptoms of fibrocystic breast disease gets worse before menstrual periods and improves after a new cycle begins. You may feel pain or discomfort, usually in both breasts.

Alternating breast pain may last throughout the menstrual cycle. Breasts can be hard and swollen and pain may be present in the armpits. Breast nodules can be felt on palpation, which before the menstrual cycle increase their size and then shrinks. The nodules are mobile.

Some women reported leaking from the nipple. If leaking breast is clear, red or even blood, see your doctor immediately.

Any woman over the age of 40 years must make a mammogram or ultrasound.


If symptoms are not present or though they are minor, do not need treatment for fibrocystic breasts. Severe pain, large painful cysts associated with fibrocystic breast call for treatment. Treatment options for fibrocystic breasts include:

- fine needle aspiration – the doctor uses a thin needle to drain fluid from the cysts. The fluid removed can confirm whether it is a breast cyst or not. Its removal also relieves the discomfort.
- surgical excision – rarely need surgery to remove a persistent cyst, such as a nodule that is not treated by repeated fine needle aspiration, which was monitored.

Other treatment options for breast pain include:

- pain relievers without a prescription such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen
- oral contraceptives, which lower levels of hormones involved in menstruation and fibrocystic breast changes
- drugs with prescription that mimics a male hormone that relieves severe breast pain. These have, however, and significant side effects (excess hair growth and acne on the body).



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