WHAT IS FIBROCYSTIC BREAST?
Fibrocystic breasts are composed of tissue that feels lumpy or rope-like in texture. Doctors call this nodular or glandular breast tissue.
It’s not at all uncommon to have fibrocystic breasts. More than half of women experience fibrocystic breast changes at some point in their lives. In fact, medical professionals have stopped using the term “fibrocystic breast disease” and now simply refer to “fibrocystic breasts” or “fibrocystic breast changes” because having fibrocystic breasts isn’t really a disease. Breast changes categorized as fibrocystic are considered normal.
Although many women with fibrocystic breasts don’t have symptoms, some women experience breast pain, tenderness and lumpiness especially in the upper, outer area of the breasts. Breast symptoms tend to be most bothersome just before menstruation. Simple self-care measures can usually relieve discomfort associated with fibrocystic breasts.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF LUMPS, CYSTS, OR FIBROSIS OF THE BREASTS?
In some women, the symptoms of fibrocystic breast condition can be very mild with minimal breast tenderness or pain. The symptoms can also be limited in time, usually occurring only premenstrually. It may not even be possible to feel any lumps when the breasts are examined by the woman herself or by her doctor. In other women with fibrocystic breasts, the painful breasts and tenderness are constant, and many lumpy or nodular areas can be felt throughout both breasts.
WHICH WOMEN MAY DEVELOP FIBROCYSTIC BREASTS? CAN YOU HAVE THE CONDITION AFTER MENOPAUSE (POSTMENOPAUSE)?
Fibrocystic breast condition primarily affects women 30 years of age and older. The reason for this is that the condition likely results from a cumulative process of repeated monthly hormonal cycles and the accumulation of fluid, cells, and cellular debris within the breast. The process starts with puberty and continues through menopause. After menopause (postmenopause), fibrocystic breast condition becomes less of a problem.
IS THERE A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN FIBROCYSTIC BREAST CONDITION AND FIBROCYSTIC BREAST DISEASE?
No. In the past, fibrocystic breast condition was often called fibrocystic breast disease. However, it is not a disease, but a condition. Most women tend to have some lumpiness in their breasts. Therefore, it is now being more appropriately termed fibrocystic breast condition. The abbreviation is FCC (an acronym derived from FibroCystic breast Condition).
Other names that have been applied to fibrocystic breast condition include mammary dysplasia, chronic cystic mastitis, diffuse cystic mastopathy, and benign breast disease (a term that includes other benign breast disorders, including infections).
CAN FIBROCYSTIC BREAST CONDITION OCCUR IN ONLY ONE BREAST?
Not usually. As a rule, fibrocystic breast condition tends to be symmetrical (bilateral) and affects both breasts. A woman can have more fibrocystic involvement in one breast than in the other. The less affected breast, however, often “catches up” over the years, and eventually both breasts become almost equally fibrocystic.
WHAT CAUSES CYSTS, FIBROCYSTIC, OR “LUMPY” BREASTS?
Fibrocystic breast condition involves the glandular breast tissue. The sole known biologic function of these glands is the production, or secretion, of milk. Occupying a major portion of the breast, the glandular tissue is surrounded by fatty tissue and support elements. The glandular tissue is composed of different types of cells: (1) clusters of secretory cells (cells that produce milk) that are connected to the milk ducts (tiny tubes); and (2) the cells that line the surfaces of the secretory cells, called the epithelial cells.
The most significant contributing factor to fibrocystic breast condition is a woman’s normal hormonal variation during her monthly cycle. Many hormonal changes occur as a woman’s body prepares each month for a possible pregnancy. The most important of these hormones are estrogen and progesterone. They directly affect the breast tissues by causing cells to grow and multiply.
Many hormones aside from estrogen and progesterone also play an important role in causing fibrocystic breasts. Prolactin, growth factor, insulin, and thyroid hormone are some of the other major hormones that are produced outside of the breast tissue, yet act in important ways on the breast. In addition, the breast itself produces hormonal products from its glandular and fat cells. Signals that are released from these hormonal products are sent to neighboring breast cells. The signals from these hormone-like factors may, in fact, be the key contributors to the symptoms of fibrocystic breast condition. These substances may also enhance the effects of estrogen and progesterone and vice versa.
The same cyclical hormones that prepare the glandular tissue in the breast for the possibility of milk production (lactation) are also responsible for a woman’s menstrual period. However, there is a major difference between what happens in the breast and uterus.
In the uterus (the womb), these hormones promote the growth and multiplication of the cells lining the uterus. If pregnancy does not occur, this uterine lining is sloughed off and discharged from a woman’s body during menstruation.
In the breast, these same hormones stimulate the growth of glandular breast tissue. They also increase the activity of blood vessels, cell metabolism, and supporting tissue. All this activity may contribute to the feeling of breast fullness and fluid retention that women commonly experience before their menstrual period.
When the monthly cycle is over, however, these stimulated breast cells cannot simply slough away and pass out of the body like the lining of the uterus. Instead, many of these breast cells undergo a process of programed cell death, called apoptosis. During apoptosis, enzymes are activated that start digesting cells from within. These cells break down and the resulting cellular fragments are then further broken down by scavenger cells (inflammatory cells) and nearby glandular cells.
During this process, the fragments of broken cells and the inflammation may lead to scarring (fibrosis) that damages the ducts and the clusters (lobules) of glandular tissue within the breast. The inflammatory cells and some of the breakdown fragments may release hormone-like substances that in turn act on the nearby glandular, ductal, and structural support cells.
The amount of cellular breakdown products, the degree of inflammation, and the efficiency of the cellular cleanup process in the breast vary from woman to woman. These factors may also fluctuate from month to month in an individual woman. They may even vary in different areas of the same breast.
SYMPTOMS OF FIBROCYSTIC BREAST
Signs and symptoms of fibrocystic breasts may include:
- Breast lumps or areas of thickening that tend to blend into the surrounding breast tissue
- Generalized breast pain or tenderness
- Breast lumps that fluctuate in size with the menstrual cycle
- Green or dark brown nonbloody nipple discharge that tends to leak without pressure or squeezing
- Breast changes that are similar in both breasts
- Monthly increase in breast pain or lumpiness from midcycle (ovulation) to just before your period
Fibrocystic breast changes occur most often in women in their 20s to 50s. Rarely do postmenopausal women experience fibrocystic breast changes, unless they’re on hormone therapy.
So, How Can I.A.& S. Wellness Centre Help Me Solve My Fibrocystic Breast Problem?
The Best And Working Solution Is:
FIBROCYSTIC BREAST SOLUTION KITS
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