Mastalgia associated with Fibrocystic Changes

Fibrocystic breast is a benign condition in which breast tissue becomes lumpy and nodular due to the formation of cysts or fibrosis. It is a very common breast condition experienced by almost half of the women at some point in their lives. Fibrocystic breast disease is nothing to be worried about. Presenting complaint of most women with this condition is discomfort and Mastalgia associated with Fibrocystic changes in Breast.

Location of pain

Pain and lumps can be present anywhere but most commonly they are felt in the upper and outer quadrant of the breast.


Symptoms may vary according to the severity of the disease and may be present in one or both breasts:

  • Feeling of lumps and knots in the breast.
  • The lumps are fluctuant.
  • Tenderness and Mastalgia associated with fibrocystic changes.
  • Swollen breasts.
  • Greenish brown discharge from nipples.
  • Thick or rubbery feeling in the breast.
  • Pain in the armpit.
  • Feeling of heaviness.
  • Skin puckering.
  • The symptoms aggravate just around the menstrual cycle.


Fibrocystic changes in the breast are a result of fluctuating levels of reproductive hormones especially estrogen throughout the menstrual cycle. The hormones cause the following changes in the breast:

  • Cells that line lactiferous ducts undergo an overgrowth.
  • Fibrosis of the breast tissue.
  • Adenosis of breast.
  • Formation of fluid-filled cysts in the breast.

Risk factors

  • Women who are more sensitive to hormonal fluctuations.
  • Females who are in their premenopausal period.
  • Women in the age group of 20 to 50.
  • Women taking estrogen replacement therapy.

Fibrocystic Changes in Breast and its association with Cancer

Fibrocystic changes are a normal phenomenon and more than half of the women experience this condition at least once in a lifetime. The occurrence of fibrocystic breasts does not increase the risk of cancer in women and has no association with it.


Most of the time diagnosis is made on the basis of the detailed history of symptoms and a clinical breast examination. Your doctor might suggest getting an ultrasound or mammography done for further investigations. Fibrocystic changes in the breast is often accompanied by discharge from the nipple, in such cases, your doctor might drain the cyst and send the sample for biopsy.


  • For excessive pain: over the counter painkillers oral as well as topical.
  • Topical progesterone gel.
  • Hormone therapy to regulate and balance hormone levels.
  • Vitamin B6 as a long term treatment.
  • In the case of a breast cyst that does not go away, your doctor might suggest Fine-needle Aspiration of the fluid relieve the Mastalgia due to Fibrocystic changes in the breast.
  • A persistent cyst can also be removed by surgical excision.

Home Remedies

  • Take evening primrose oil.
  • Wear a properly fitted bra that supports your breast properly.
  • Limit your caffeine intake.
  • If you are taking hormone replacement therapy, discontinue for some time.
  • A heating pad to relieve the discomfort.

When to consult the doctor?

If you experience worsening of mastalgia, the occurrence of new lumps, or lumps growing in size, you should not ignore these changes and book an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible.


Are fibrocystic changes in breast dangerous?

No, fibrocystic changes occur in response to fluctuating hormones and are experienced by half of the women at least once in their lifetime. Most of the time the condition gets better without any sort of treatment, other times conservative approach is enough.

What are the surgical options for the treatment of fibrocystic breasts?

Fine needle aspiration of this cyst can be done to drain the fluid-filled cyst. Surgical excision is also done to remove a persistent cyst.

Why do the cysts enlarge just before the period?

The cysts enlarge in size in response to estrogen levels in the body.

What is the significance of breast examination in fibrocystic changes?

A Breast examination can help you detect the occurrence of new lumps and differentiate between lumpy breasts due to fibrocystic changes or the formation of a lump that may be associated with a tumor.