Fibrocystic breast disease

Alternative Names

Mammary dysplasia; Diffuse cystic mastopathy; Benign breast disease

Definition of Fibrocystic breast disease

Fibrocystic breast disease is a commonly used phrase to describe findings on a breast exam. The word “disease” makes women worry that their breasts are abnormal, but this is not really a disease.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

The breasts are mostly made up of tissue that is affected by hormones produced by the ovaries. Hormones change throughout a woman’s menstrual cycle. They can cause the breasts to feel swollen, lumpy, and painful. After menopause, these changes in the breasts usually stop happening.


Symptoms are usually worse right before your menstrual period, and then improve after the period starts. You may feel pain or discomfort, usually in both breasts. Breast pain commonly comes and goes, but it can be persistent. Your breasts may feel full, swollen, and heavy.

Signs and tests

If you have any concerns about your breasts, your health care provider will examine you. If there are any worrisome lumps, you might have a , , or both.


If you have painful breasts, the following may help:

Expectations (prognosis)

There is no increased risk of cancer. Symptoms usually improve after menopause.


Debra G. Wechter, MD, FACS, General Surgery practice specializing in breast cancer, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 12/17/2009

Female Breast
Fibrocystic breast disease

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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