Fibrocystic Breast Disease - Medical Malpractice Lawyers

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Fibrocystic Breast Disease - Medical Malpractice

Fibrocystic breast disease involves having lumpy and bumpy breasts that have cysts and fibrous tissue in them. It can affect a single breast or both breasts. The condition is common, affecting up to 60 percent of women, usually between the ages of 30 and 50. It tends to disappear after menopause. It is currently being called "fibrocystic breast changes" or "fibrocystic breast condition" because it is actually not a real disease at all but is a variant of normal. It does not lead to malignancy of the breast.

The condition can be mild and can only be symptomatic in the premenstrual state. It can also be more severe and can affect the breasts all the time. The cysts can be small or quite large, depending on the woman and the severity of the disease.

Fibrocystic breast disease involves changes in the glandular tissue of the breasts. These are the milk-producing aspects of the breast. The fatty part of the breasts is not involved in fibrocystic breast disease. The glandular parts of the breast are the secretory cells that make milk and the cells lining the surface of the secretory cells, or the epithelial cells. The most significant contributing factors to getting fibrocystic breast disease include hormonal changes in the latter part of the menstrual cycle. Changes in the amount of oestrogen and progesterone can cause the fibrocystic breast condition to emerge. Prolactin, insulin, growth factor and thyroid hormone all play a role in the development of fibrocystic changes. When the menstrual cycle is over, the uterus sloughs off the cells made during the proliferative phase of the menstrual period. This cannot happen with the breasts and so the cells must undergo apoptosis or programmed cell death. If this does not happen properly, cysts and fibrous tissue is formed, causing fibrocystic breast disease. There is inflammation and pain in the breasts.

The major symptoms of fibrocystic breast disease include painful breasts in one or both breasts, lumpy breasts that are tender to the touch and cysts within the breasts that can persist and enlarge, resulting in the cysts having to be drained by the doctor. The symptoms tend to be worse in the premenstrual state and go away or diminish somewhat after the menstrual period is over with.

Fibrocystic breast disease is dangerous because it can mimic breast cancer. After having multiple cysts and fibrous tissue within the breast, you can find it difficult to determine whether or not a specific lump is a cyst or breast cancer. It is more difficult to diagnose breast cancer if a person has fibrocystic breast changes.

The diagnosis of fibrocystic breast disease can happen with a mammogram which can show the changes in the breast typical of dense, fibrous breasts. The doctor can also examine the breasts and can find changes typical of fibrous breast changes. Multiple cysts can be palpated within the breast. Lumps and cysts are worse in the upper outer quadrant of the breast, which is the part of the breast nearest to the arm pit. The cysts are usually small, round and relatively mobile beneath the skin. Some fibrous areas may be irregular in nature, feeling rubbery and like tiny beads in the tissue. Breast ultrasound can be done to see the cysts and fibrous tissue and is sometimes a better test than a mammogram because it is less painful and easier to interpret.

The treatments for fibrocystic breast disease include those things that improve the pain and those things that correct the hormonal imbalance going on in the breast. An adequately supportive bra can help the pain as can the use of acetaminophen or NSAIDs like ibuprofen and naproxen. Certain vitamins may help reduce the symptoms, including vitamin C, Vitamin B6, Vitamin A and Vitamin E. A good multivitamin may make all the difference in taking care of the breast pain. Oil of Primrose is a natural substance that has found to be efficacious in treating fibrocystic breast changes.

Hormonal treatments may also be of benefit. If a woman has a hysterectomy, it may be helpful to cycle the oestrogen she takes in order to give the breasts a rest and allow the breast tissue to normalize. Some women benefit from Tamoxifen, which is an anti-oestrogen. It is a medication that can cause menopausal symptoms but significantly reduces the changes in the fibrocystic breast.

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The author of the substantive medical writing on this website is Dr. Christine Traxler MD whose biography can be read here