Benign fibrocystic changes ~ Health Guide

Health Guide

Health Record provides reliable answers to important health questions. Use this site to learn more about detecting, preventing, and treating a variety of medical conditions.

Benign fibrocystic changes

Written by Mystic on Monday, August 04, 2008

Benign fibrocystic changes are very common and are the cause of most cysts and non-cancerous lumps.

The term 'benign fibrocystic changes' generally refers to a condition which can develop in women whose breasts appear to be particularly sensitive to their monthly hormone changes. Their breasts are not able to completely return to normal after their period before they are stimulated again by the rise in the next month's hormones. Over the months and years, their breast tissue may gradually become thicker, with extra 'lumpiness', tenderness, or the development of cysts. These problems usually disappear after menopause.

In the past, the term 'benign mammary dysplasia' was widely used for these conditions of the breast. Because the word 'dysplasia' refers to a change or abnormality in the cells of the body, many women were anxious that dysplasia meant 'pre-cancer'. This is not so and these conditions are now called benign fibrocystic changes.


Cysts occur when fluid becomes trapped in the breast tissue. They are extremely common and can occur either on their own or with benign fibrocystic changes. More than one cyst may occur at the same time. Cysts may feel soft or firm and may sometimes be painful to touch. They are harmless, but it is essential to have them checked by your doctor to make absolutely sure that they are not cancer.

Your doctor will withdraw (or aspirate) the fluid from the cyst using a syringe with a very fine needle. This procedure is called fine needle aspiration. It may cause some discomfort but it should not be painful. Sometimes, your doctor may send the fluid to a laboratory to be examined under a microscope but often this is unnecessary. Once the fluid has been removed the cyst will usually just disappear. It may come back and need to be aspirated a second time. Occasionally, a cyst will keep coming back. This should not be ignored as you may need to have the cyst surgically removed (a biopsy).


Fibroadenomas are harmless lumps of fatty and fibrous tissue. They usually feel firm and rubbery and have a smooth texture. A fibroadenoma may move around in one area of your breast. Although they are more common in younger women (aged 18-30), they can also be found in women aged 30 years and over. As with all lumps, it's important to have it checked by your doctor. You may find that you need further tests (such as a fine needle aspiration) or you may need to have a biopsy.

Nipple discharge or nipple inversion

A discharge from your nipple or 'pulling-in' (inversion) of your nipple are usually due to benign conditions of the breast. Occasionally, however, they may be due to cancer so it is important that any changes be checked by your doctor.

If you are breastfeeding, it is quite normal, between feeds, for milk to leak from your nipples . After your baby has been weaned, you may still notice a milky discharge. This is not unusual - try not to squeeze your nipples as this will continue to stimulate the milk flow. Usually the discharge will gradually stop. If it continues, or if the colour or consistency of the discharge changes, you should consult your doctor. If you develop a new discharge or 'pulling-in' of the nipple, talk with your doctor.

Related Posts by Categories

Widget by Hoctro | Jack Book