Finding a lump in the breast can be a very traumatic experience for a woman of any age; it can be especially unsettling for a young woman. The thought of breast cancer immediately comes to mind, but fortunately the most common cause of a breast lump at a young age is due to fibrocystic breast disease.
Fibrocystic breast disease is so common that it is considered more a variation of normal. Actually not a disease, it is more a symptom, an overgrowth of breast tissue. Many providers consider it a “change” in the breast tissue. It is also commonly referred to a benign breast disease or mammary dysplasia.
The exact cause of fibrocystic breast lumps is unknown; it is suspected that it is linked to estrogen production, as most fibrocystic breast lumps disappear after menopause when estrogen production stops. It has also been noted that lumps appear larger and may become sore, especially during a woman’s menstrual cycle, which seems to support the link with estrogen production. It is also thought that high caffeine intake could contribute to fibrocystic breast lump formation, especially in women around age 18 to 25.
A breast with fibrocystic breast disease presents with a lumpy cobblestone feel. The lumps are more predominate in the upper outer part of the breast. The lumps often enlarge and feel painful and tender during the premenstrual period. Both breasts are usually involved, and the condition may appear to come and go.
It is very important for a woman with breast lumps to do monthly breast self-examinations. In this way, she will become accustomed to the unique geographic features of her breasts and will be more likely to notice the appearance of a new lump. Women with fibrocystic breast lumps are often encouraged to have a mammogram at an early age to map the location of lumps just in case a suspicious lump should appear.
Decreasing caffeine intake and lowering dietary fat may help eliminate fibrocystic breast lumps. Some physicians recommend taking 400 mg of vitamin A daily, which is supposed to help lumps shrink. Birth control pills may also be used to regulate estrogen production to keep flare-ups and soreness from occurring especially during the premenstrual phase.