What Are Breast Fibroids?

lumpy breasts
What Are Breast Fibroids?

They are non-cancerous (benign) lumps that can grow inside the breasts (pictures). Some can be solid (fibroadenomas) and some can be filled with fluid (cysts). Fibroadenomas are a slow-growing mass of tissue (tumor) which is painless, firm to touch and moveable. They are often uncovered during a mammogram screening, and because they can look like a breast cancer lump, they need to be biopsied. Small fibroadenomas are usually not treated, but larger painful ones may be removed by lumpectomy or laser ablation or cryoablation (freezing). Fluid filled cysts are the other most common type of breast fibroid. They occur when the lobules of the breasts become swollen with fluid, usually around the time of a woman's period. They can grow and decrease in size quite rapidly. Cysts are harmless, although they may cause some discomfort. Large ones are usually treated by needle aspiration, that is, they are drained using a needle and syringe. If the fluid builds up again, a breast biopsy will need to performed, just to rule out breast cancer. Women who are prone to breast lumpiness during their period may find it helps to treat their symptoms naturally with diet. There is some evidence that reducing caffeine or salt intake a week before your period is due, can help. Taking oral contraceptives also seems to help alleviate the problem.

Symptoms

All types of breast fibroids are harmless. They are no longer associated with increasing a woman's breast cancer risk factors. Although the condition used to be called fibrocystic breast disease, it is also no longer considered a disease because it is estimated that up to 90 percent of all women experience them at some time in their life. So what do they look like? Symptoms can change at different times of the menstruation cycle, normally worsening just before a period and immediately improving when its finished. Common signs include:

• General breast lumpiness.
• Lumps move and slide around when you press them. They are round-shaped, fairly soft and can increase and decrease in size rapidly.
• Dull ache or severe breast pain.
• Some lumps are painful to touch, others are not.
• Cysts usually (but not always) occur in both breasts and in multiples (not singularly).

Scientists still aren't sure what causes breast fibroids. They are more common in women between the ages of 35 and 55 when hormone levels of estrogen and progesterone are quite high. So it suggests a hormonal link. If you discover a lump during a breast self examination, don't panic! 9 out of 10 lumps turn out to be harmless cysts or fibroadenomas. However it's always important to get a breast lump checked out by your doctor, and it is worth reading about the symptoms of breast cancer.

Related Topics - All About Uterine Fibroids

What are uterine fibroids? Benign lumps found in the womb which can cause heavy periods.
Fibroids symptoms: How to recognize the signs.
Fibroids diagnosis: How uterine fibroids are diagnosed by a doctor.
Fibroids during pregnancy: Risks and possible complications.
Fibroids and weight gain: Can they cause you to gain weight?

• Got another question? See: Womens Health Questions

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