Fibrocystic change (FCC) of the breasts is the most common benign breast condition. These changes are normal and are not a disease.
More than 60 percent of women may experience fibrocystic changes. It occurs more frequently in women aged 30 to 50 years and resolves most often after menopause.
Breast pain and tender lumpiness are the commonest symptoms of fibrocystic change. The size of the breast lump or lumpiness may fluctuate especially from mid-cycle to just before the period.
Although the exact cause is not clear, hormonal imbalance, particularly oestrogen predominance over progesterone, seems to play an important role in its development. As hormonal levels may fluctuate during the menstrual cycle, the symptoms of fibrocystic changes may also fluctuate with breasts becoming lumpier, tender and sore just prior to menses.
The risks may increase with:
Careful assessment of the history of the symptoms with a clinical breast examination, followed by mammograms and breast ultrasound may be indicated in some women. Occasionally, a biopsy of the breast tissue may be needed to ensure the symptoms of fibrocystic change are not due to a malignant condition.
Management of fibrocystic change includes:
Fibrocystic breasts without atypical proliferations (abnormal growth of cells) do not increase the risk of breast cancer.