Fibrocystic Breast Condition - Diagnosis

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How is fibrocystic breast condition diagnosed?

A common indicator of fibrocystic breast condition is breast pain or discomfort, but women with fibrocystic breasts may also not have any symptoms. If discomfort is present, the discomfort may include a dull, heavy pain in the breasts, breast tenderness, nipple itching, and/or a feeling of fullness in the breasts. These symptoms may be persistent or intermittent (coming and going), especially appearing at the onset of each menstrual period and going away immediately afterwards.

The primary method of diagnosing fibrocystic breast condition is physically touching and feeling (palpation) the lumpy areas in the breast(s). These lumps may be detected by a woman on self-examination or by her physician. This lumpiness is most commonly found in the upper outer quadrant of the breast. (The breast is conventionally divided into quadrants or quarters. The upper outer quadrant is the one closest to the armpit.) The lumps in fibrocystic breast condition are typically mobile (they are not anchored to overlying or underlying tissue). They usually feel rounded, have smooth borders, and may feel rubbery or somewhat changeable in shape. Sometimes, the fibrocystic areas may feel irregular, ridge-like, or like tiny beads. These characteristics all vary from one woman to another.

Breasts that are extremely fibrocystic can be very difficult to examine by palpation (touching and feeling). Even mammograms of such extremely fibrocystic breasts may be difficult to interpret. In these cases, specialized breast ultrasound exams and other tests can be very helpful for cancer screening. It may sometimes be necessary to obtain a sample (biopsy) of breast tissue with a needle or by surgery in order to make an accurate diagnosis and differentiate between fibrocystic breast condition and breast cancer.

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Comment from: fran, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: September 23

I have had fibrocystic breasts for 25 years. I have tried lots of different pain killers and vitamins, nothing has worked for me. I keep begging the doctors to chop off my breasts, because anything is better than the constant pain I'm in. I have had biopsies and it is all clear. The relief I had after the biopsy was lovely because the cyst went down.

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Comment from: paulette, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: January 20

I had lumps removed from my right breast at 28 years old and taken to a lab for test and it was confirmed to be fibrocystic condition, and now at 36 years old I have lumps on the left breast. My doctor sent me for an ultrasound and I was told again that it is fibrocystic condition. Naturally I'm a little worried because I don't want to have another surgery. I wonder why it came back and if there is something I'm not doing right.

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