Breast fibroids are also known as fibrocystic breast disease, benign breast disease, fibroid breast, mammary dysplasia, and diffuse cystic mastopathy. These breast fibroids are harmless, moveable, rubbery nodules which cause pain in the breast. It is common in women, particularly those above the age of 30, and about 33% of these women suffer from breast fibroids. This problem sometimes resolves itself after menopause because of the decrease in estrogen and progesterone levels.
Causes of breast fibroids:
There are no exact causes for breast fibroids but there are some factors which suggest some role in the development of breast fibroids.
The most important factor is the hormonal imbalance between the estrogen and progesterone levels. They affect the tissues in the breast by causing the cells to grow and multiply. Other factors which contribute to the development of breast fibroids are thyroid hormone, prolactin, and insulin. Additionally, the breast produces a hormonal factor from the glandular and fat cells and sends the signal to the neighboring breast, and this also causes the formation of fibroids in the breast.
The menstrual cycle has a significant role in the formation of breast fibroids. That is, the symptoms get worse before the menstrual period and improve after the period. Some common symptoms related to breast fibroids are:
- Irregular areas with thicker tissues and a ridge-like surface
- Discomfort in the breast
- Feeling of fullness and heaviness
- Changes in nipple
- Itching sensation
- Extreme sensitivity to touch
- Severe pain
- Burning sensation
The basic method for diagnosing breast fibroids is by touching and palpating for lumpy areas. The lumpy areas will mostly be felt in the upper quadrant of the breast, and are moveable, as they will not be attached to the lower tissues. They will be round-shaped with smooth borders which will be irregular.
Another commonly used method is mammography. If lumps are already palpated, it may be difficult to get a mammogram because it could be tricky to interpret the result. It is important for women above the age of 40 to get a mammogram each year. Apart from these, other methods used are biopsy and aspiration of the breast in order to find the fibroids in the breast. A biopsy is done in order to know whether the problem is breast fibroids or breast cancer. With the aspiration method, a small needle is used to pierce the breast in order to detect the present of fibroids. If a lump is found during the breast examination, or if the results in the mammogram screening are not normal, a doctor has to be consulted immediately.
Apart from these, factors like diet and environmental and metabolic toxins will also increase the likelihood of breast fibroids as well as the risk of developing breast cancer. However, statistics show that fibroids are the cause of breast cancer in only 5% of women with the disease.
The best treatments for the elimination of breast fibroids are surgical methods. These involve the removal of the lumps that are present in the breast. Other than this, there are methods such as dietary therapy and medicinal therapy, and they have also been proven successful in preventing the recurrence of breast fibroids.
For pain relief, the patient may take medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen; she may also replace her bra with a well-fitting one; and ice or heat can be applied on the breast if it gets too painful.