Breast Pain & Fibrocystic Disease
Many women with painful and lumpy breasts have Fibrocystic Breast Disease, also called fibrocystic breasts. While technically not a true “disease”, you can receive treatment for fibrocystic breasts if the condition is reducing your quality of life or if you are worried about the symptoms. Dr. Ebanks has many years of experience helping women with breast conditions get the diagnosis and treatment they need. With the state-of-the-art equipment available at Cayman Islands Surgery Center, Dr. Ebanks can accurately identify fibrocystic breast disease and offer personalized treatments to her Cayman Islands patients.
What Are Fibrocystic Breasts?
Fibrocystic breasts are lumpy and painful breasts characterized by a varying degree of cysts and fibrotic (scar) tissue. Also known as fibrocystic breast changes, the condition is benign and very common; around 50 percent of women over the age of 30 will have these changes at some point in their lives.
Most women who have the condition notice that these breast changes occur before their period, likely because the condition is driven by hormonal shifts. This may also explain why the condition is less common in postmenopausal women. However, women on hormone replacement therapy may also experience these changes.
The condition is generally harmless. It does not increase your risk of cancer or pose other health risks. But it can cause severe discomfort in some women and make it harder for doctors to detect cancer.
What Are the Symptoms?
Women with fibrocystic breasts notice certain changes in their breasts, usually around their period. These changes often include:
- Swollen, painful and tender breasts, especially the upper outer part
- Lumpy and rope-like changes that blend into the surrounding tissue
- Changes appearing after ovulation and before your menstrual period
- Green or dark brown nipple discharge.
If you have undergone menopause, you may experience these changes if you are taking hormone therapy.
The symptoms can appear in one or more commonly in both breasts. Most women first notice these symptoms after age 30, when many hormonal changes start to take place.
Causes of Fibrocystic Breasts
The precise causes of fibrocystic breasts are unknown, but experts believe the changes are a result of natural shifts in hormones through the menstrual cycle. Estrogen seems to play a bigger role in the condition than progesterone. That conclusion has been drawn because studies have found that high estrogen and low progesterone levels increase the likelihood of developing fibrocystic breasts. And because most women stop experiencing the discomfort of fibrocystic breasts after menopause, this theory seems even more likely. Since the exact causes are unknown, it’s difficult to recommend measures to reduce your risks of developing fibrocystic breasts.
Diagnosing Fibrocystic Breasts
At Cayman Islands Surgery Center, Dr. Ebanks can identify fibrocystic breasts through simple diagnostic procedures. In most cases, she may only need to perform a clinical breast exam and ask questions about your period to give an accurate diagnosis. But if there is any need for further testing because there are some unusual changes, Dr. Ebanks may recommend one or more of the following:
If Dr. Ebanks notices an unusual lump or particularly thick breast tissue, she may recommend a diagnostic mammogram to rule out other conditions, including cancer. A mammogram can help your doctor better assess changes in your breasts.
Women with dense breast tissue are usually advised to undergo an ultrasound rather than a mammogram for more accurate testing.
If Dr. Ebanks is concerned about an unusual cyst or lump detected on an ultrasound or mammogram, she may perform a biopsy to see if there are any cancerous cells present.
How Are Fibrocystic Breasts Treated?
Women with no or mild symptoms usually don’t need treatment. Some women can manage their condition with dietary changes, pain medication like Tylenol, ibuprofen or prescription pain relievers. Your doctor may even prescribe supplements or drugs to lower estrogen levels.
If your condition is causing you significant discomfort because you’ve developed particularly large cysts, Dr. Ebanks may perform the following:
This procedure can help diagnose certain conditions but also treat large cysts in the breasts that are causing symptoms. It involves inserting a very small needle into the cyst to aspirate (remove) the fluid within.
If repeated aspiration is unsuccessful, Dr. Ebanks may perform surgical excision of the cyst. Surgery for breast cysts is rarely needed, however.
Make an Appointment
If you think you have fibrocystic breasts, feel free to schedule an appointment with Dr. Tanja Ebanks at Cayman Islands Surgery Center in Governors Square. Dr. Ebanks is a general surgeon with a special interest in plastic and reconstructive surgery and has years of experience diagnosing and treating a range of breast conditions, including fibrocystic breast changes. She will carefully assess your condition and find the best treatment options for your case.
To learn more about your options, call Dr. Ebanks today at +1 345 946 0067. You can also fill out our online contact form to have a staff member call you at a more convenient time. You can message Cayman Surgery directly at email@example.com
At what age should I check for fibrocystic breast disease?
There’s no set age to start checking for fibrocystic breasts since the condition is harmless. Most women are advised to monitor their breast health through monthly self-exams and yearly clinical breast exams as well as mammograms. These can help determine if you have fibrocystic breasts or a different condition.
What is the outlook for fibrocystic breast changes?
Fibrocystic breasts are harmless, so the outlook is pretty good; however, you should notify your doctor about any unusual or new lumps to rule out cancer.
Is fibrocystic breast disease curable?
Fibrocystic breasts are not curable, but the condition can be managed with medication, lifestyle changes and surgery. The symptoms of fibrocystic breasts tend to resolve on their own after each menstrual period and menopause.
When do you recommend breast cyst aspiration?
A palpable breast lump is usually a reason for concern, and we can perform a breast cyst aspiration to see if it contains any cancer cells. A breast cyst aspiration is also suitable for patients with painful cysts.
What is the anticipated recovery time after a breast cyst aspiration?
Most of Dr. Ebanks' patients can resume their normal activities within a couple of hours after any fine needle aspiration procedure. Your treated breast may feel sore for a couple of days after the procedure, which you can easily manage with over-the-counter pain relievers.