Fibrocystic breast disease is known by various other names. Such terminologies as diffuse cystic mastopathy, fibrosclerosis of the breast, chronic cystic mastitis, fibrocystic mastopathy and mammary dysplasia all refer to fibrocystic breast disease, a condition in which non-cancerous abnormal formations develop within the breast. Such dysplasia can occur in either one breast or both.
Symptoms of Fibrocystic Breast Disease
Most women do become aware of such formations by chance especially during self breast examination. They often discover that they have a lump or lumps in their breast(s), which leads to a frightening experience as most women take lumps in the breast to mean breast cancer. The fact is however that majority of lumps that develop in the breast are indeed non-cancerous. A woman is likely to experience such symptoms as swollen and tender breasts. In most cases, the swelling and tenderness of the breast worsen just before menstrual flow before wearing off soon after. The swelling and tenderness of the breast can cause some degree of pain, which can make a woman feel extremely uncomfortable.
Unlike other forms of breast lumps, fibrocystic breast disease lumps are easy to differentiate from the others. They in most cases occupy the upper, outer sections of the breast just near the armpit. They are usually very smooth with defined edges and can easily move to other areas of the breast, in which case they can be obscured by other breast contents. While fibrocystic breast disease does not present any adverse symptoms, it is very necessary for a woman to go for medical examination and be subjected to necessary tests to rule out breast cancer.
The need for medical examination through necessary tests becomes very necessary considering the fact that fibrocystic breast disease increases the risk for one to develop breast cancer. It is however very important to point out that whether or not the disease is a precursor to breast cancer has not been authoritatively ascertained.
Causes of Fibrocystic Breast Disease
Although the causes of fibrocystic breast disease are unclear, hormones are thought to play a major role in its development. The fact that the condition wears off soon after menstruation, intensifies just before menstruation and disappears during menopause forms the basis of the thought that hormones are responsible. In particular, variations in normal estrogen, progesterone and prolactin hormonal levels have been linked to the occurrence of the disease.
Diagnosis & Treatment of Fibrocystic Breast Disease
Diagnosing fibrocystic breast disease is usually after breast cancer has been excluded. Diagnosis is usually based on symptoms in which case clinical and or physical examination is initially undertaken. This involves manual feeling of lymph nodes and other breast structures. This is usually followed by various imaging tests including mammography, X-rays and ultrasounds tests. In some cases, biopsy is undertaken.
There is no definite treatment for fibrocystic breast disease. Women diagnosed with the condition are in most cases advised to resort to a healthy diet while being monitored. Treatment options available only target symptoms that the condition presents. In extreme cases however, doctors do prescribe hormonal therapies including birth control pills to regulate estrogen and progesterone levels. Hormonal treatment is however individualized and is therefore appropriate for all women affected.