Fibrocystic disease of breast

About half of all women have fibrocystic breast disease, a term used to describe several benign (noncancerous) conditions that affect the breast. Women with fibrocystic breast disease often experience tenderness or pain as well as lumps in their breasts caused by the enlargement of glandular tissue. The lumps, or cysts, move freely in the breast, are either firm or soft, and may change in size. Pain results as the cysts fill with fluid and the tissue around them becomes thick, placing pressure on the surrounding area. This fluid is normally reabsorbed by the breast tissue, but as a woman ages the ability of the lymph system to absorb the fluid decreases, and cysts remain. The cysts are most painful before menstruation.

Fibrocystic breast disease appears to be caused by an imbalance in the ratio of estrogen to progesterone, as well as cyclic changes in the levels of other hormones. The condition can be exacerbated by compounds known as methylxanthines, which are found in coffee, tea, cola, chocolate, and medications that contain caffeine.

Fibrocystic disease of breastFibrocystic breast disease is often a complaint associated with premenstrual syndrome (PMS). If you have symptoms of PMS as well as fibrocystic breasts, the treatment options in the entry on PMS may be more helpful. If fibrocystic breast disease is your primary complaint, try the options below.

An ounce of prevention

Avoid consuming coffee, tea, cola, chocolate, and medications that contain caffeine. These trigger foods can provoke symptoms of fibrocystic breast disease.


Some women become alarmed by the presence of lumps in their breasts due to a well-placed fear of breast cancer. It is important to perform monthly breast self-exams and to visit your doctor regularly for an annual physical and breast exams. Women over age forty should have regular mammograms, at their doctor's recommendation. If you detect a suspicious lump, contact your doctor to rule out the possibility of a tumor.

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