What Are Fibrocystic Breasts?

Side view cross section of breast showing glandular, fibrous, and fatty tissue.  Multiple cysts throughout breast.Do your breasts ever feel lumpy, sore, or tender? If so, you may have fibrocystic breasts. This is a very common condition. It is not a disease, and it is not cancer. Your healthcare provider can rule out problems and help you ease your symptoms.

Normal breasts

Your breasts are made up of 3 kinds of tissue:

  • Glandular tissue is made up of the milk ducts and glands.

  • Fibrous tissue supports the breast.

  • Fatty tissue fills the spaces between the other tissues. It gives the breast its size.

Fibrocystic breasts

Hormones are chemicals that control your menstrual cycle. Hormones can also make glandular tissue swell. This stretches fibrous tissue, making your breasts feel sore. Hormones may also cause one or more fluid-filled lumps to form. These lumps are called cysts. They may be large or small. Cysts are not cancer. This means they are benign. Just before your period, cysts may become larger. Your breasts may feel more sore.

What you may feel

Changes in hormone levels during your menstrual cycle affect your breasts. If you have fibrocystic breasts, your breasts may become sore or even painful. This can often happen before your period. Your breasts may also swell or feel lumpier at this time.

Caring for your breasts

Breast self-awareness is the key to caring for your breasts. Self-awareness means knowing how your breasts normally look and feel. This helps you notice any changes right away. Call your provider if you notice new lumps or changes that feel different than normal. See your provider for regular exams. And have a mammogram as often as your provider suggests.