Other terms used to describe:
Chronic - Lasting a long period
Fibrocystic changes, a term used by physicians and pathologists, describe a number of non-cancerous conditions occurring in the breast. These conditions are found in the breasts as lumps or masses which occur and change with the menstrual cycle and may be accompanied by pain and tenderness. Previously, the term "fibrocystic disease" was used to describe the process and was falsely implicated as a risk factor for cancer. However, at least 50 percent of all women have irregular feeling, lumpy breasts. Furthermore, studies have shown that as many as 90 percent have microscopic, fibrocystic changes.
These changes are a normal response to the hormonal stimulation of the breast tissue and do not represent a "disease" process . Thus, the term "fibrocystic disease" is not an accurate description of the changes. Fibrocystic changes do not increase the risk for cancer. The term is commonly applied to any change that is not cancerous. Because there is no exact clinical definition, ask your physician precisely what type of changes have been found in your breast tissue if you receive the diagnosis of fibrocystic changes.
Some drugs routinely prescribed by a physician can cause some women to experience lumpiness, fullness and tenderness in the breast tissues. This type of lump feels very similar to those produced by hormonal changes in the body. The changes are not harmful but the causes may confuse you or your physician.
Blood pressure medications
Aldactone® (a diuretic)
When you check your breasts before your menstrual period, they will feel different than at the end of your period. Therefore, it is very important to examine your breasts on a regular basis at the same time of the month; the best time is at the end of the cycle. The increase in cells and fluid in the breast will often cause them to feel lumpy. If you find a lump in a breast, feel the opposite breast in the same area for a similar change. If one is found, you probably have discovered a normal hormonal change. It is safe to wait and go through a menstrual period and re-check the same area. If the area is smaller or softer at your second self-exam, then it has been stimulated by hormonal changes that are normal. If the lump has not become softer or smaller, a physician will need to evaluate the area. Every woman has a normal pattern of lumpiness and bumpiness in her breasts tissue. Only through regular self-exams can a woman get to know this pattern of lumpiness in her own breasts. A physician examining the breasts once a year will not be able to learn the individual patterns of breast lumpiness.
Some women report less pain when caffeine is decreased or eliminated from their diets. Caffeine-containing substances include coffee, tea, cola and chocolate. Other women are not affected by eliminating caffeine from their diets. Reducing sodium intake has also been effective in reducing pain in some women. Some physicians have found benefits in using vitamin E and other vitamin supplements to reduce pain. Herbal supplements, such as Ginseng or Dong quai may actually increase breast tenderness, pain and/or discharge. Contact your physician for recommendations.
For more information, please call The Connie Dwyer Breast Center at (973) 877-5189.