Fibrocystic Change Diagnosis and Treatment

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Though not an actual disease, fibrocystic disease is an ailment that many women have right before the onset of their menstrual period. The condition is often called fibrocystic change or fibrocystic breasts and is characterized by pain, swelling, tenderness, and lumps in the breasts that have nothing to do with cancer or any other actual diseases.

As a result of the body preparing for possible pregnancy, the tissue in the breast undergoe changes from hormones produced by the body and this can result in lumpy breasts and pain. These changes will go away after the menstrual period has ended. There is also another similar condition where the symptoms do not occur as part of the menstrual period and this is called noncyclic breast pain. Fibrocystic change is not difficult to diagnose by a doctor but there are no specific treatment options that will cure the patient of discomfort.


Fibrocystic change is typically diagnosed in women in their thirties and may affect over half of all women. As a result of the symptoms, it is best to make sure that the lumps and discomfort is not part of something more serious. Noncyclic breast pain can occur at any age and may be part of an injury or perhaps a chance in diet. In order to differentiate between these possibilities or a more serious condition, a mammogram or ultrasound may be required. These tests should allow a doctor to determine what the problem is and whether it is or isn’t fibrocystic change.

Unless there are problems or concerns, additional medical checks (biopsy) are not usually required. Frequent self-checks and monitoring fibrocystic change on the part of sufferers, however, can be important because it will be easier to determine what is part of the condition and what might be another condition or possibly a real disease. Should the symptoms not go away after the menstrual period has ended, then a doctor should be consulted. 


Due to the fact that fibrocystic change is a natural occurrence for many women, there is no way to completely treat the problem. The simplest treatment for fibrocystic change is to alleviate the symptoms. Taking over-the-counter medication such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, and other similar types), acetaminophen (Tylenol and other similar types), or aspirin for the pain and swelling is advised as well as any other medication that a doctor may prescribe. Applications of hot or cold direction on the swollen areas can also be used. The swelling or temporary enlargement of the breast may also require a better fitting bra. Patients using birth control and experiencing fibrocystic change will likely have lesser symptoms while those patients taking hormone therapy should consult their doctor.

Other possible treatments

Though it hasn’t been definitively proven, some doctors advise their patients to change their diets before the time that fibrocystic change occurs, which is typically 7 to 10 days before menstrual period. Eliminating chocolate, caffeine, and fatty foods is supposed to help alleviate symptoms. Supplements such as primrose oil, vitamin E, or others such as magnesium and thiamine have also not been proven to help. The Mayo Clinic suggests most of these additional measures but the New York Times Health Guide maintains that there are no actual studies or proof that they help. It is therefore best to consult a doctor before following any of those suggestions.

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