It is crucial to diagnose fibrocystic breast disease since it is associated with increased risk of development of breast cancer. Though fibrocystic breast disease is a benign condition and relatively common, the symptoms and presentation of the condition tends to mimic breast cancer closely and hence diagnosis becomes crucial. The diagnosis of the condition is based on the following criteria, The symptoms and the presentation of the condition are often indicative of the ailment.
A physical breast examination is performed by the physician to verify the presence of fibrocystic breast disease; however these lumps can be detected by the patient on self examination as well. The lumps are most frequently observed in the upper outer quadrant of the breast (i.e. the quadrant which is closest to the armpit). The lump is mobile and may often change in shape and size. In some females, the lump may be ridge with tiny beads and may feel irregular.
A Mammogram is used to diagnose the condition in cases of severe pain and tenderness. In some cases a breast ultrasound examination may also be required to confirm the diagnosis.
In complicated cases, a histo-pathological examination of the breast tissue may be performed. The sample may be obtained using aspiration needle (FNAC) technique or a surgical biopsy. This is important to differentiate between breast cancer and fibrocystic breast disease.
Fibrocystic Breast Disease Treatment
Treatment regimen for fibrocystic breast disease focuses on the management of the specific symptoms and the causative factors resulting in the development of the condition. The treatment protocol can be classified into two specific approaches,
- Symptom Relief: As a first line of treatment, measures are made to relieve the symptoms of pain and breast tenderness. The patient may be prescribed simple anti-inflammatory drugs which have been found to be effective in the management of breast pain. Other lifestyle modification practices including providing adequate support to the breast and wearing bras at is recommended in some patients.
- Managing Hormonal Imbalances: This approach attempts to restore hormonal imbalances which are considered to be as the primary factors contributing to the development of fibrocystic breast disease. Hormone replacement therapy is recommended in patients with irregular menstrual cycles.
There are several reports that have suggested that Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin A and B complex Vitamins are considered beneficial in alleviating the symptoms associated with the condition. Food supplements are also considered to be beneficial in the management of fibrocystic breast disease.
Evening Primrose oil which contains essential fatty acids is considered to play a crucial role in management of breast pain. Though there is limited scientific information to back these claims, some amounts of measurable benefits have been recorded among patients.
Fibrocystic breast disease tends to continue to persist through the reproductive age of the female and then after menopause, the severity of the symptoms tends to decline.
A constant follow up and evaluation is required since statistically, females with fibrocystic breast disease are at a high risk of development of breast cancer. Estimates suggest that about five percent of women with fibrocystic breast condition can develop cellular hyperplasia which in turn is associated with the risk of development of breast cancer. Statistically, this implies that females with fibrocystic breast disease are at two to six folds higher risk of developing breast cancer compared to ‘normal population’.