Fibrocystic Breast Condition (cont.)
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
In this Article
- Fibrocystic breast condition facts
- What are fibrocystic breasts?
- Is there a difference between fibrocystic breast condition and fibrocystic breast disease?
- What causes fibrocystic breasts?
- What are the symptoms of fibrocystic breast condition?
- Which women are more likely to develop fibrocystic breast condition?
- Can fibrocystic breast condition affect just one breast?
- Why is it important to diagnosis fibrocystic breasts?
- How is fibrocystic breast condition diagnosed?
- Is there more than one type of fibrocystic breast condition?
- Why can fibrocystic breast condition be associated with an increased risk of breast cancer?
- Why don't all women with fibrocystic breast condition have breast biopsies?
- What is the recommended follow-up for women with fibrocystic breast condition?
- How is the risk of breast cancer in fibrocystic breast condition patients calculated?
- What are the treatments for fibrocystic breast condition?
- Are there any dietary or life style factors associated with fibrocystic breast condition?
- Find a local Obstetrician-Gynecologist in your town
What are the treatments for fibrocystic breast condition?
The treatments for fibrocystic breast condition are directed at the individual components of the condition, including the relief of symptoms (such as breast pain and tenderness) and the correction of hormonal irregularities:
- Relief of symptoms: Some simple measures, such as adequate support of the breasts and perhaps wearing a bra at night, may provide relief from many of the symptoms of fibrocystic breast condition. Anti-inflammatory medications, including acetaminophen (Tylenol and otehrs) and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs), often reduce the breast pain significantly.
- Hormonal irregularities: Some women with very irregular menstrual cycles seem to progressively suffer more severe fibrocystic breast condition. This tendency is most likely due to the prolonged and irregular hormonal stimulation of the breasts. In these patients, it is sometimes helpful to establish menstrual cycle regularity with oral contraceptives. Regular cycles seem to allow the breast tissue to recover more completely at the end of each menstrual cycle.
- Studies have shown some benefit from the short term use of the antiestrogenic drug Tamoxifen in relieving breast pain. However, tamoxifen (Nolvadex) use may be associated with a number of adverse effects, especially in postmenopausal women, and its use should be limited to the short term. Likewise, the androgenic steroid drug danazol (Danocrine) has also been shown to reduce breast pain and nodule size in women with fibrocystic breast condition. Danazol is also associated with a number of serious side effects. Both of these medications may be considered for use in women with severe cyclical breast pain due to fibrocystic condition.
There are reports suggesting that a variety of vitamins may be of benefit in relieving the symptoms of fibrocystic breast condition. These have included vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin B6 and vitamin A, among others. In general, the rationale for using these vitamins is unclear and is not based on duplicated, controlled clinical studies. The exception may be vitamin E where, at least in some studies, there appears to be a measurable benefit for some patients.
Another food supplement that has been claimed to be of some benefit in clinical studies is Oil of Primrose. This substance contains certain essential fatty acids that allegedly benefit some fibrocystic breast condition patients by reducing their breast pain. There is no evidence showing any correction (resolution) of the microscopic cellular abnormalities with use of this substance, but some women experience symptom relief with this supplement.
In patients who have had a hysterectomy and who are on hormone therapy, it may be helpful to be "off estrogen" for five days during each monthly cycle rather than remain on continuous estrogen. Again, this schedule is designed to avoid the continuous stimulation of the breast tissues by estrogen. It is important that any such hormone regulation be under the direct supervision of a physician.
Certain common hormonal (endocrine) abnormalities, such as diabetes or thyroid dysfunction, may contribute to fibrocystic breast condition. Since these conditions may aggravate the symptoms of fibrocystic breast condition, they should be diagnosed and treated.
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