Breast fibrosis is a medical condition in which the breasts develop a lumpy texture. This condition can often cause pain and tenderness that may worsen just before menstruation each month. Breast fibrosis is believed to be caused by hormonal fluctuations, particularly the hormone known as estrogen. It is important to note that breast fibrosis does not increase a woman's chances of developing breast cancer. Treatment for breast fibrosis is not always necessary, although over-the-counter or prescription medications or surgical intervention may be used in some situations.
Women who find lumps in one or both breasts are often fearful that it may be breast cancer. While it is always a good idea to discuss any concerns with a doctor, breast fibrosis is the most common cause of breast lumps, and these lumps are generally not cancerous. Monthly self-examination of the breasts can often help a woman to know if there are any changes in the breast tissue that should be discussed with a doctor. Mammograms should be performed as recommended by a doctor to test for breast changes.
Typical symptoms of breast fibrosis include lumps in the breasts or thickened areas of breast tissue. This may cause pain or tenderness, especially just before menstruation. These changes tend to happen in both breasts, and the size of the lumps are likely to fluctuate. Some women with breast fibrosis may occasionally notice a slight discharge from the nipples that tends to be brown or dark green in color.
Any breast lumps should be checked by a doctor, especially if there has not been a previous diagnosis of breast fibrosis. Medical tests such as mammograms, ultrasounds, or biopsies can help to confirm whether the lumps are cancerous. The doctor will take a detailed medical and family history, as fibrosis of the breasts has a tendency to run in families.
Some women with this condition have no bothersome symptoms, and in these cases medical treatment is not necessary. If symptoms are mild, over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen may be able to provide adequate symptom relief. Certain oral contraceptives or medications designed to mimic specific male hormones may also be helpful in treating symptoms of this condition. A surgical procedure known as needle aspiration may sometimes be used to drain the fluid from the cysts and relieve bothersome symptoms, or in more severe cases the cyst may be surgically removed.