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What Are Fibrocystic Breasts?

Do your breasts ever feel lumpy, sore, or tender? If so, you may have fibrocystic breasts. This is a very common condition. It is not a disease, and it is not cancer. Your healthcare provider can rule out problems and help you ease your symptoms.

Side view of cross section of breast showing glandular tissue, fibrous tissue, and fatty tissue.  Multiple cysts throughout breast tissue.

Normal breasts

Your breasts are made up of 3 kinds of tissue:

  • Glandular tissue is made up of the milk ducts and glands.

  • Fibrous tissue supports the breast.

  • Fatty tissue fills the spaces between the other tissues. It gives the breast its size.

Fibrocystic breasts

Chemicals (hormones) that control your menstrual cycle can make glandular tissue swell. This stretches fibrous tissue, causing your breasts to feel sore. Hormones may also cause one or more fluid-filled lumps (cysts) to form. They may be large or small. Cysts are not cancerous (benign). Cysts may become larger and your breasts may feel more tender just before your period.

Caring for your breasts

You may want to do a breast self-exam about a week after your period starts. This helps you get used to the feel of your breasts. Talk to your provider about how to check your breasts. Call your provider if you notice new lumps or changes that feel different than normal. See your provider for regular exams. And have a mammogram as often as your provider suggests.

What you may feel

Changes in hormone levels during your menstrual cycle affect your breasts. If you have fibrocystic breasts, your breasts may become sore or even painful, especially before your period. They may also swell or feel lumpier at this time.

Online Medical Reviewer: Foster, Sara, RN, MPH
Online Medical Reviewer: Horowitz, Diane, MD
Last Review Date: 8/13/2015
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