Do I need treatment for fibrocystic breasts?

If you have lumps in your breasts, you should see your primary care provider to ascertain that they are non cancerous growths symptomatic of fibrocystic breasts. If your doctor has diagnosed you with fibrocystic breast tissue, no treatment is necessary. However, you should contact your doctor if you notice new breast lumps or existing lumps that thicken, change or grow.

Am I more likely to develop breast cancer because of fibrocystic breasts?

Your risk of breast cancer doesn’t increase because you have fibrocystic breasts. However, if you have breast changes associated with atypical hyperplasia (abnormal appearance and overgrowth of cells that line breast lobules and ducts), there is an increased risk of breast cancer.

What causes lumpy breasts?

No specific cause has been determined, but it’s suspected that a woman’s reproductive hormones, particularly estrogen, contribute to breast changes.

Can I do anything to relieve my breast pain?

Not all women have pain with fibrocystic breasts, but some do. If yours occurs temporarily or at certain times of the month, use over-the-counter pain medications for temporary relief. You may have to try different ones to determine which one works best for you. Wear a good supportive bra. You may feel better wearing a comfortable sports bra when sleeping. Limit the fat in your diet to less than 20 percent of your total daily calories. Many women say that limiting or eliminating caffeine also helps, although medical studies to that effect have been inconclusive.

What can a doctor do to help relieve my discomfort?

If your breast pain is intense or ongoing, your doctor can help you with treatment options that include aspirating the fluid from the lumps to relieve discomfort, prescribing oral contraceptives or prescription medications that can decrease severe breast pain, and/or removing lumps that are particularly painful.

(Dr. Jill Klemin is a board certified family medicine physician at Sanford North Clinic in Bismarck. She received her medical degree from the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences at Grand Forks and completed her residency in family medicine at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health in Madison.)