Fibrocystic Disease

Fibrocystic breast is a common benign disease, manifesting with a mass in the breast, pain or nipple discharge. While it was previously considered a disease, it is currently named as fibrocystic breast changes. Although it can be seen in all age groups, it is most commonly seen between the ages of 30-50 years. It is estimated that it occurs in almost 60% of the women in the population.

Why Does It Develop?

Fibrocystic breast changes are thought to be caused by hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle. More pronounced changes occur during the menstruation in women with fibrocystic breast changes.

How Is the Diagnosis Made and Treatment Carried Out?

The patient is initially evaluated by physical examination. The structure of the breast is evaluated and it is determined if there is a palpable mass. Mammography and/or ultrasonography should be performed depending on the age of the patient. A biopsy may be necessary for complicated or complex cysts observed in the ultrasound examination. The length of the period allocated to diagnostic tests may vary depending on certain conditions including a family history of breast cancer or the presence of suspicious lesions in the breast. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is recommended in the presence of these findings.

Most women with fibrocystic breast disease do not need treatment. Some measures can be taken and some medications can be given to the patient to relieve pain and discomfort. Supporting bras can be used for reducing the pain and tension in the breasts. Although there is no scientific evidence, it is commonly believed that reduction of caffeine intake, adopting a low-fat diet, and receiving effective vitamins and minerals alleviate the symptoms. In patients with persisting pain, painkillers are often effective in relieving the pain and discomfort in fibrocystic breast disease.

Women followed up for fibrocystic disease should not neglect to see the physician if they find new or different masses in the breast, if a bloody nipple discharge occurs, if they develop redness or wrinkles on the skin covering the breasts, and if nipple retraction or change in the nipple direction occurs. Since fibrocystic breast disease makes it more difficult to diagnose cancer, it is beneficial for these patients to be followed up regularly for breast examination.

Is It a Risk Factor for Cancer?

Fibrocystic breast is not dangerous but a disturbing condition for the individual due to the associated symptoms. Fibrocystic disease of the breast is not associated with the increased risk of developing cancer. Changes in the breast make it difficult to detect and identify cancerous masses during breast examinations. In some cases, some pathological changes in these areas increase the risk of developing breast cancer. A biopsy may be required for the differential diagnosis.

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