Fibrocystic Condition of the Breast

John Han-Chih Chang, MD and Kenneth Blank, MD
Last Modified: November 1, 2001

I am a 20 year old female who has had bilateral breast "cysts" since I was 11 years old. I went to the doctor for this condition 2-3 years ago and again this past August. My doctor claimed I had some type of fibrocystic disease. They have definitely gotten bigger over the years ... almost like it's a big clump of cysts. Lately (over the past week or so) they've really begun to hurt and feel like they might have gotten even larger. Do you have any idea what this might be? Could it be anything more than just cysts at my age?  
Thank you.

Kenneth Blank, MD and John Han-Chih Chang, MD, Editorial Assistants for Oncolink, respond:

Thank you for your question.  
The condition you describe is likely fibrocystic condition of the breast. Fibrocystic condition is diagnosed upon palpation (feeling) rubbery and cystic areas in a single area or multiple regions in one or both breasts. Fibrocystic condition is the most common lesion affecting the female breast. In fact, the majority of women are likely to have some manifestation of fibrocystic condition sometime in their lifetime. The condition is most commonly seen in women ages 30-50, but is reported to occur in younger women

In addition to feeling cysts and rubbery areas, fibrocystic condition can cause monthly cyclic pain and tenderness. The symptoms often occur one week before the menses and subsides one week later. Treatment is symptomatic and includes analgesics and limiting caffeine intake. Occasionally vitamin E may help relieve pain as may abstinence from alcohol.

If there is any question regarding the diagnosis of fibrocystic condition a fine needle aspiration or biopsy is performed to rule out carcinoma (breast cancer)