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- Patient Comments: Fibrocystic Breast Condition - Experience
- Patient Comments: Fibrocystic Breast Condition - Diagnosis
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- Fibrocystic breast condition definition and facts
- What are fibrocystic breasts?
- What are the symptoms of lumps, cysts, or fibrosis of the breasts?
- Which women are more likely to develop the condition?
- Is there a difference between fibrocystic breast condition and fibrocystic breast disease?
- Types of fibrocystic breasts
- Can the condition affect just one breast?
- What causes cysts, fibrocytic, or "lumpy" breasts?
- Can caffeine cause fibrocystic breasts?
- Why is it important to diagnosis fibrocystic breasts?
- How is fibrocystic breast condition diagnosed?
- Why don't all women with fibrocystic breast condition have breast biopsies?
- What are the treatments for breast lumps, cysts, and fibrosis?
- Living with the pain of fibrocystic breasts
- Are fibrocystic breasts associated with an increased risk of breast cancer?
- What my chances or risks of getting breast cancer?
Types of fibrocystic breasts
When biopsies (samples) of breast tissue are studied under the microscope, it is possible to identify different types of fibrocystic breast condition. Some cases of fibrocystic breast condition show little disturbance of the breast tissue. Other cases involve a large number of cysts, along with fibrous (scar) tissue, in the breast tissue. Additionally, in some cases of fibrocystic breast condition, the breast cells do not have a normal appearance.
Cysts and fibrosis: Usually, even when the breast is not stimulated to produce milk, some secretions are produced by the secretory glandular cells. These secretions are normally reabsorbed "downstream" in the ducts. However, when there has been tissue damage and scarring (fibrosis) in the breast, these secretions may be trapped in the glandular portions of the breasts, thereby leading to the formation of fluid-filled sacs called cysts. In some areas of the breasts, there may be excessive fluid secretions due to stimulation by hormone-like substances. The resulting cysts may remain microscopic or enlarge until they contain several teaspoons or even tablespoons of fluid. These larger cysts may be felt as palpable (capable of being detected by touching) breast lumps. Even microscopic cysts may sometimes be felt as palpable lumps if many cysts are clustered together and there is a buildup of fibrous (scar) tissue around the cysts.
Hyperplasia and atypical hyperplasia of breast cells: With repeated stimulation from normal hormones, and possibly the effects of many of the hormone-like substances produced in the breast, a few of the epithelial cells (cells that line the ducts in the breast) may eventually lose some of their genetic controls, which normally limit their multiplication (cell division). When this happens, cells may proliferate, leading to an abnormal architectural pattern of the epithelial cells. This over-proliferation of cells is termed hyperplasia. Sometimes these proliferating cells begin to appear abnormal and to look different from one another. They are now described as "atypical." As other more normal cells continue to cycle, die and break down, these atypical cells can move in, spread out, and accumulate. This extensive overgrowth and accumulation of atypical cells is called atypical hyperplasia.
Can the condition affect just one breast?
Not usually. As a rule, fibrocystic breast condition tends to be symmetrical (bilateral) and affects both breasts. A woman can have more fibrocystic involvement in one breast than in the other. The less affected breast, however, often "catches up" over the years, and eventually both breasts become almost equally fibrocystic.