Fibrocystic Breast Changes
What are some common fibrocystic breast changes?
Generalized breast lumpiness is known under many different names, such as fibrocystic disease and fibroid breasts. Many of these are misnomers since healthcare providers and researchers now believe that these are just part of the breast changes which many women undergo throughout life. Many healthcare providers feel that this term has become a catch-all for general breast lumpiness.
What do fibrocystic changes feel like?
Fibrocystic lumpiness is also described as ropy or granular and seems to become more obvious as a woman approaches middle age and the milk producing glandular tissue gives way to softer, fatty tissue. However, women with lumpy breasts may have other benign breast conditions.
Lumpiness in the breasts may make actual lumps harder to distinguish. So, it is important that women with lumpy breasts do regular breast self-exams (BSEs) and have regular physical exams, including mammography as indicated by the National Cancer Institute or American Cancer Society (ACS) guidelines. Knowing the normal shape and feel of your own breasts is important, especially when doing exams to find any unusual breast changes.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force does not recommend BSEs because evidence suggests they do not lower risk for death from breast cancer. The ACS says BSEs are an option for women older than age 20 as a means of familiarizing themselves with their breasts so they can notice changes more easily. Talking with your healthcare provider about the benefits and limitations can help you decide if you should start doing BSEs.