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Fibrocystic Breasts - Symptoms

Fibrocystic breast changes usually affect both breasts. But they can affect just one. You may notice that symptoms tend to be most obvious right before you start your period and are worse during some cycles than others. Symptoms include:

  • Breast swelling.
  • Breast tenderness or pain. It usually is described as a dull or aching pain, heaviness, or soreness.
  • Breast lumps. "Generalized breast lumpiness" is used to describe this common cyclic breast symptom. Lumpy (cystic) areas feel more dense when you press on them. Lumps can be moved, rather than feeling anchored to muscle underneath. You may also notice one or more specific lumps that are always in the same area and that grow and shrink with each menstrual cycle.

Many women first notice fibrocystic breast changes when they are in their 30s, when their hormone system begins to change and hormone levels tend to fluctuate more than before.

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When to see your doctor

If your symptoms start during the 2 weeks before your period, consider waiting through your menstrual period to see if symptoms improve.

Call to schedule an appointment if any of the following occurs:

  • You have breast tenderness and miss a menstrual period. This could mean you are pregnant. Contact your doctor for a pregnancy test.
  • You have signs of breast infection, including sudden breast swelling, redness, or pain with or without a fever.
  • You have discharge from your nipple that looks like pus or blood.
  • Sharp pain occurs suddenly without a known cause (such as an injury) and has continued for 2 weeks or more.
  • Increasing or persistent pain occurs in one or both breasts, particularly if the pain stays in one area of the breast.
  • You notice a new lump in your breast that is still there after your menstrual period.
  • You notice a dimple or pucker in the skin or nipple.

For more information about breast symptoms, see the topic Breast Problems.


WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: February 28, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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