Fibrocystic br**sts are composed of tissue that feels lumpy or rope-like in texture. Doctors call this nodular or glandular chest tissue.
It’s not at all uncommon to have fibrocystic br**sts. More than half of women experience fibrocystic chest changes at some point in their lives. In fact, medical professionals have stopped using the term “fibrocystic chest disease” and now simply refer to “fibrocystic br**sts” or “fibrocystic chest changes” because having fibrocystic br**sts isn’t really a disease.
Although chest changes categorized as fibrocystic br**sts are normal, they can cause chest pain, tenderness and lumpiness — especially in the upper, outer area of your br**sts. chest symptoms tend to be most bothersome just before menstruation. Simple self-care measures can usually relieve discomfort associated with fibrocystic br**sts.
It’s important to have your br**sts evaluated if you have specific areas where pain continues to occur or worsens, or if you have new areas of lumps or thickening that persist after your period. Your doctor will examine you to see if the new changes are concerning and to eliminate other causes.
Signs and symptoms of fibrocystic br**sts may include:
chest lumps or areas of thickening that tend to blend into the surrounding chest tissue
Generalized chest pain or tenderness
Fluctuating size of chest lumps
Green or dark brown nonbloody bosom discharge that tends to leak without pressure or squeezing
Changes that occur in both br**sts, rather than just one
Monthly increase in chest pain or lumpiness from midcycle (ovulation) to just before your period
Fibrocystic chest changes occur most often in women in their 20s to 50s. Rarely do postmenopausal women experience fibrocystic chest changes, unless they’re on hormone therapy.
The exact cause of fibrocystic chest changes isn’t known, but experts suspect that reproductive hormones — especially estrogen — play a role.
If you aren’t yet menopausal, your discomfort may result from the way your hormone levels fluctuate during your menstrual cycle. The fluctuations can make your br**sts have areas of lumpy thickening that feel tender, sore and swollen. Those fibrocystic chest changes often feel the worst before your menstrual period, and the pain and lumpiness tends to clear up once your menstrual period begins.
Having fibrocystic br**sts doesn’t increase your risk of chest cancer, unless the chest changes are associated with atypical hyperplasia (atypia) — the abnormal appearance and overgrowth of cells lining chest lobules and ducts
If you don’t experience symptoms, or your symptoms are mild, no treatment is needed for fibrocystic br**sts. Severe pain or large, painful cysts associated with fibrocystic br**sts may warrant treatment.
Treatment options for chest cysts include:
Fine-needle aspiration. Your doctor uses a hair-thin needle to drain the fluid from the cyst. Removing fluid confirms that the lump is a chest cyst and, in effect, removes it, relieving associated discomfort.
Surgical excision. Rarely, surgery may be needed to remove a persistent cyst-like lump that doesn’t resolve after repeated aspiration and careful monitoring.
Examples of treatment options for chest pain include:
Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) or prescription medication.
Oral contraceptives, which lower the levels of cycle-related hormones linked to fibrocystic chest changes
You might find relief from symptoms of fibrocystic br**sts through one of these home remedies:
Wear a firm support bra, fitted by a professional, if possible.
Wear a sports bra during exercise and while sleeping, especially when your br**sts are extra sensitive.
Limit or avoid caffeine, a dietary change many women report as helpful, although medical studies of caffeine’s effect on chest pain and other premenstrual symptoms have been inconclusive.
Decrease the fat in your diet, which may decrease chest pain or discomfort associated with fibrocystic br**sts.
Reduce or stop taking hormone therapy if you’re postmenopausal — but be sure to talk to your doctor before making any change in your prescription medications.
Use a heating pad or warm water bottle to relieve your discomfort.