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Fibrocystic Breast Syndrome

09/15/2003 - Questions and Answers

Fibrocystic Breast Syndrome

By: Mark Castleden

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Question

Every other month I get a cystic-type lump on my right breast, about the size of an olive. It causes me a lot of pain; when the skin breaks it bleeds and expels greenish pus. I've had lumps removed in the past 10 years, none of which were called cancerous. I'm 51 years old.

Answer

It sounds as if you have fibrocystic breast syndrome. Many women, as many as 50%, suffer from some degree of fibrocystic breast syndrome. These are benign (non-cancerous) lumps filled with fluid that change during your menstrual cycle. They can make your breasts swell and become tender, sometimes painful, just before and during your period. They are hormonally related. For this reason, the best time to examine your breasts is one week after your period. Every woman should do breast self-examination once a month. This condition does not make you more susceptible to breast cancer.

Unfortunately there is no cure for fibrocystic disease. What you put in your body, however, can also make a difference in the amount of swelling and pain you have on a monthly basis. Caffeine intake can greatly influence the tenderness you may have. Limiting caffeine will help alleviate the symptoms of fibrocystic breast syndrome. Some people think of caffeine in the form of coffee only. However, non-herbal teas, sodas, diet sodas, and chocolate all contain caffeine. Some physicians have used buffered vitamin C taken daily as a natural way to alleviate the symptoms of fibrocystic breast syndrome. Check with your doctor to see if this may be right for you.

Your particular cyst appears to either become infected (mastitis) or is secreting a fluid from the cyst that becomes infected. This usually happens when the cyst only drains and is not completely cut out. The cyst, capsule and all, can be surgically removed without the total loss of the breast. Your physician may wish to refer you to a plastic surgeon for this procedure. At age 51 you should be coming to or in your menopause. Occasionally the symptoms of fibrocystic disease resolve after menopause.

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  • Fibrocystic breast disease
Created on: 06/04/2002
Reviewed on: 09/15/2003

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