Fibrocystic Breast Condition - Experience

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What are fibrocystic breasts?

Fibrocystic breasts are characterized by lumpiness and usually discomfort in one or both breasts. The lumpiness is due to small breast masses or breast cysts. The condition is very common and benign, meaning that fibrocystic breasts are not malignant (cancerous). Fibrocystic breast disease (FBD), now referred to as fibrocystic changes or fibrocystic breast condition, is the most common cause of "lumpy breasts" in women and affects more than 60% of women. The condition primarily affects women between the ages of 30 and 50, and tends to become less of a problem after menopause.

The diagnosis of fibrocystic breasts is complicated by the fact that the condition can vary widely in its severity. In some women, the symptoms of fibrocystic breast condition can be very mild with minimal breast tenderness or pain. The symptoms can also be limited in time, usually occurring only premenstrually. It may not even be possible to feel any lumps when the breasts are examined by the woman herself or by her doctor. In other women with fibrocystic breasts, the painful breasts and tenderness are constant, and many lumpy or nodular areas can be felt throughout both breasts.

Picture of the anatomy of the breast

Return to Fibrocystic Breast Condition

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Comment from: Suzanne, 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: December 19

At 30 I found a lump in my left breast while doing my monthly personal exam. I went to the doctor and while she was convinced it would be fine, she sent me to have a sonogram. The radiologist took one look at the images and ordered a biopsy. Three nervous weeks later, I was diagnosed with 2 small cysts and told not to worry about it. This past summer came the pain; it hurt to put on a bra. I went back to the doctors, and now they want to remove the cysts. I'm not so sure how I feel about it. After all my 94 year old maternal grandmother has been living with this since she was in her 40s.

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Comment from: k80dryden, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: February 04

I was diagnosed with fibrocystic breast condition when I was a college student, at the age of 24. I was told by the physician, to eat a healthier diet, a low fat diet that included a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables, and to avoid caffeine. I have found that avoiding fatty foods along with moderate exercise and consequently losing 10 to 15 pounds has relieved my breast swelling and pain. When the pain is gone all of the fears of getting breast cancer go away with it! However, all of my fears are not gone because I have never had a mammogram. At the age of 27, after graduating college and finally being able to afford medical insurance, I was told that I was too young to get a mammogram and to wait until I was 40 years old. I was also told that worrying about getting cancer was causing undue stress and that I had no more chance of getting breast cancer than any other healthy young woman. I weighed 169lbs when I was diagnosed. I am now 39 years old, 5'8" tall, and weigh about 145 to 155 lbs. Every time that I have gained weight the breast pain and swelling has returned. Now, I am no longer employed and have no health insurance and have never had a mammogram, a biopsy, or breast exam, other than a self-exam. The thing that worries me is that two of my aunts were diagnosed and survived breast cancer and my paternal grandmother had to have her left breast removed and that is the exact breast that hurts me the most. The good news is: she beat her breast cancer and died of old age at 91 years old!

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