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Fibrocystic breast disease

  • Definition

    Fibrocystic breast disease is a commonly used phrase to describe painful, lumpy breasts. The word "disease" makes women worry that their breasts are abnormal, but this is not really a disease.

    Some health care providers use the phrase "fibrocystic change" because it sounds less worrisome to the patient.

    Alternative Names

    Mammary dysplasia; Diffuse cystic mastopathy; Benign breast disease

    Causes, incidence, and risk factors

    During a woman's menstrual cycle, the breasts are affected by hormones made in the ovaries. These hormones can cause the breasts to feel swollen, lumpy, and painful. After menopause, these changes in the breasts usually stop happening.

    There is no definite cause of painful, lumpy breasts. Some women feel that eating chocolate, drinking caffeine, or eating a high-fat diet can cause their symptoms, but there is no clear proof of this.

    Fibrocystic changes in the breast with the menstrual cycle affect over half of women, and most commonly start during their 30s. Women who take hormone replacement therapy may have more symptoms. Women who take birth control pills have fewer symptoms.