aLife Singapore | What is fibrocystic disease of the breast?
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08 Aug What is fibrocystic disease of the breast?

I am 41 years old and my breasts are always painful before menses. Recently, my mammogram and ultrasound examination showed that I have some cysts in both breasts. My gynaecologist told me that I have fibrocystic disease and reassured me that those cysts are not cancerous. What is fibrocystic disease? Will it lead to cancer?
A. Fibrocystic disease of the breast is a non-cancerous condition, characterized by lumpiness and occasional discomfort in one or both breasts.The condition is very common, occurring in 90% of women at some point in their lives. It is most common in women of childbearing age and tends to resolve after menopause. The exact cause is unknown and is generally believed to be due to hormonal imbalances, with dominance of the female hormone(oestrogen).
Fibrocystic disease develops from two main tissues in the breast, the supporting connective tissues and the glands that secrete the milk during lactation. The connective tissue thickens and form firm, nodular and hard lumps (fibrosis) while the glands develop into fluid-filled sacs (cysts). Hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle may cause the fibrosis and cysts to get bigger and become painful before menstruation.
Symptoms and signs of fibrocystic disease are tender and painful lumpswhich can mimic and/or mask breast cancer.
Occasionally, there may be a clear or cloudy nipple discharge. The condition is not related to breast cancer. But, as it can co-exist with breast cancer development, any lump in the breast should be taken seriously and fully investigated. Other diagnostic tests in addition to screening mammography may be necessary in order to rule out an underlying breast cancer.
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