Finding a lump on your breast does not necessarily mean breast cancer, although it is a cause for concern, it is not always life threatening.
Breast lumps & Cysts, should you worry?
Breast Lumps and Cysts can be caused by Fibrocystic breast disease which is both treatable and preventable. This is a common but benign (non-cancerous) condition that may affect one or both breasts.
Most women experience painful, lumpy, tender breasts that often get worse before their menstrual cycle.
And, research shows a strong connection between the wearing of ill-fitting bras and benign fibrocystic lumps, cysts and breast pain.
Fibrocystic breast lumps may have a thick, irregular feel to them or be smooth, round and not attached to other breast tissue.
They feel tender when touched, and increase or decrease in size during your menstrual cycle. These breast lumps can be found anywhere in your breast, but mostly occur in the upper part near your armpit.
This condition is common amongst women between the ages of 30 and 50, but women younger than 30 years can also be affected.
However, most women only encounter mild symptoms, while some do experience severe pain. Symptoms generally cease after menopause but sometimes fibrocystic breast lumps can continue after your menopause has run its course.
What Causes Fibrocystic Breast Disease?
Fibrocystic breast disease is linked to hormonal changes during your menstrual cycle.
During each menstrual cycle, hormonal stimulation causes the milk glands in your breasts to enlarge. Your breasts may feel swollen, lumpy, painful or tender before or during menstruation.
While some women experience mild breast swelling others may experience more severe symptoms.
Symptoms and signs of Fibrocystic Breast Disease
The common symptoms and signs of fibrocystic breast disease include:
- Pain and tenderness that extends to the underarm
- Feeling of fullness
- Cysts (fluid-filled cysts)
- Nipple discharge that may be a green-brownish color
Diagnosing Fibrocystic Breast Disease
The diagnosis of fibrocystic breast disease is usually based on symptoms indicating tenderness, lumpiness or pain, as well as a physical examination.
You will usually detect breast lumps or cysts during your menstrual cycle.
Your doctor or health practitioner will perform a clinical breast exam and an ultrasound or mammogram.
An additional mammography or ultrasound will probably be performed a few weeks later, followed by a biopsy or fine needle aspiration to establish the presence of breast cancer.
Help for Fibrocystic Breast Disease and Breast Lumps
Fibrocystic breast disease is usually treated with self-care. Health practitioners recommend that women wear a bra with extra support (athletic or sports bra), especially when their breasts are tender and during the menstrual cycle.
Reducing your intake of caffeine, tea, soft drinks and chocolate may help reduce breast discomfort, but studies linking breast pain and caffeine have yet to be confirmed.
Low-dose birth control pills may also help to ease breast soreness and swelling.
Over-the-counter medications such as aspirin or acetaminophen can also relieve sore breasts.
If breast pain is severe, prescription medication may be administered. Diuretics may be used to provide symptomatic relief as they help to promote the excretion of excess fluid from the body in the form of urine.
It is vital that you carry out regular breast self-exams, have clinical breast exams and screening mammography.
Because of the normal lumpiness and tenderness associated with fibrocystic breasts, this condition can sometimes camouflage the appearance of breast cancer on a mammogram.
Tips to help cope with fibrocystic breast disease
There are several things that you can do to reduce the discomfort of fibrocystic breast lumps :
- 1) Wear a bra that provides extra support during the day and at night, particularly when your breasts are most tender
- 2) Practice monthly breast self-exams – women between the ages of 20 and 39 should have a clinical breast exam every three years while women over 40 years should have annual screening mammograms and yearly breast exams
- 3) Eat a low-fat diet that contains fresh fruit, vegetables and whole grains
- 4) Increase your intake of magnesium two weeks before your menstrual cycle to reduce breast pain and swelling
- 5) Apply a heat pack to your breasts to relieve the pain
- 6) Ask your doctor or health practitioner to show you how to perform a breast exam correctly.
Natural Herbal Remedies …
Natural and holistic therapies such as herbal remedies have proven to be highly successful in providing symptomatic relief for fibrocystic breast lumps.
Herbal remedies are safe and gentle on the body’s system, and encourage overall systemic health and wellbeing. One of the most powerful Chinese herbs, Dong Quai (Angelica Sinesis) helps to promote hormonal harmony throughout the menstrual cycle and to maintain normal estrogen and progesterone levels.