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Have soft lump in breast before period starts. Diagnosed as fibrocystic breast. Purpose of ultrasound?

Mar 2013
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Hi, I found a small pea sized soft movable lump 1.5 weeks before my period and went to see a GP. She said i have a lumpy breast and that this is just more prominent but its normal, its just part of me. A week after my period, the lump seems to slightly decrease in size and was not completely gone. Thus, I went to look for another GP to have it checked. This GP said that its normal and I have a fibrocystic breast. She touched that lump and said so long as it does not increase in size, its alright. However, if it gets bigger then I have to come back and she will send me for an ultrasound. May I know

1. whats the purpose of an ultrasound?
2. Whats the tendency that the lump will get bigger?
3. Is there anything that I can do to prevent the increase in size?
4. Whats the possibility of the small lump?

* I have no family background history of breast cancer.

Posted Mon, 12 Aug 2013 in Women's Health
Answered by Dr. Aarti Abraham 43 minutes later
Thanks for writing to us with your health concern.
I will try to answer your queries in the order in which you have asked them.

1. Firstly, fibrocystic breasts are a condition that many women experience, as due to hormonal changes, the normal ' lumpiness ' of the breasts increases, and hence the symptoms vary according to the menstrual cycle. As the breasts are lumpy, there is more fibrous tissue. It is difficult to examine the breasts clinically, and sometimes mammography ( X XXXXXXX ) is also difficult to interpret in lumpy breasts. An ultrasound is an additional diagnostic tool that provides more information in such cases, particularly, as your doctor said, if the size increases .

2. There are various kinds of fibrocystic breasts - these are specifically diagnosed only by biopsy and looking under a microscope. Only some of them have the tendency to grow bigger and turn cancerous. There is no major cause of concern, as only less than 5 % of women with fibrocystic breasts go on to have any further breast concerns.
However, what would be the future of your particular lump is difficult to say without a biopsy. Generally women with fibrocystic breasts are followed up regularly by clinical examination of breasts alongwith appropriate imaging ( mammogram, ultrasound ) as required.

3. Wearing tight supportive bras helps. Wearing a bra at night is recommended. Maintaining an ideal BMI, regular exercise and avoiding hormonal imbalances such as hypothyroidism, diabetes etc also helps. Vitamin E supplements are generally given .Evening primrose oil has been found to alleviate certain symptoms. If the pain and discomfort are tremendous, painkillers maybe given, though it is rare to have that degree of pain. Avoid excessive consumption of caffeine and saturated dietary fats.

4. Already covered in answer no. 2

Overall, do not worry, as this is a common problem found in women during the childbearing years. The risks of progression to cancer are EXTREMELY low. YOu require only regular appointments with your doctor for surveillance.

Please feel free to discuss further.
Be well.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Have soft lump in breast before period starts. Diagnosed as fibrocystic breast. Purpose of ultrasound? 26 minutes later
Thanks for the prompt reply! May I know
1. Around how big in terms of cm should I go back to my GP for an ultrasound? Cos currently mine is just half a cm or slightly smaller.
2. And usually does it need to be surgically removed? Else, under which condition will it have to be surgically removed? In terms of size, texture, symptoms

Answered by Dr. Aarti Abraham 33 minutes later
Hi again,
Frankly speaking you would have to keep going regularly to your doctor every 3 - 6 months for regular check ups.
If the lump increases in size, generally beyond 2 cm, radiological evaluation is indicated ( mammogram plus ultrasound ).
There is no specific size or characteristic which mandates surgical removal, only the biopsy results.
It is first biopsied with a needle, and based on the results, if the lump shows high preponderance for developing into malignancy, then it needs to be surgically removed.
Hope this clarifies things.
take care.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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