Did you know that your breasts are always changing? A woman’s breasts change during the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, breastfeeding and menopause. Along with these normal changes, problems can arise. Most of the problems are minor, but a few can be serious. One major problem breast cancer, is a leading cause of cancer deaths in women.
Getting to Know Your Breasts
Your breasts are made up of glands, fat and fibrous (thickened) tissue. They respond to changes in levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone during your menstrual cycle. Hormones cause a change in the amount of fluid in the breast. This may make fibrous areas in the more painful.
Your breasts also change during pregnancy, breastfeeding and menopause. You may notice changes in your breasts if you use hormonal contraception, such as birth control pills, if you use hormone therapy, or if you have breasts implants.
Breast Problems in Women
Most breast problems produce only minor symptoms. Because all women are at risk of breast cancer, you should be aware of how your breasts feel. Regular breast self-exams can help. Tell your healthcare provider if you notice any changes. Most breast problems, especially in younger women, are benign (not cancer). Common symptoms include:
- Lumps (which may be felt in one exact place or throughout the breasts)
- Discharge from the nipple
- Tender areas
Benign Breast Problems
The common problem is a benign condition called fibrocystic changes. With these changes, a woman’s breasts may feel lumpy and tender. Symptoms of fibrocystic changes include pain, itching, swelling, and tenderness. These symptoms often occur in both breasts. Cysts also may occur. A cyst is a small sac filled with fluid. It can be almost any size. Often cysts will vary in size, changing with the menstrual cycle or at the time of menopause. Cysts occur most often in women aged 25-50 years. They also can occur after menopause in women who take hormone therapy. Fibroadenomas are another common type of breast change. They are solid, benign lumps. They occur most often in young women. Most women who have
Most women who have firbrocystic changes, cysts, or fibroadenomas do not have a greater change of getting breast cancer. Still, you should always inform your healthcare provider of any symptom of breast problems right away.
Most breast problems are benign, but breast cancer can occur. Check your breasts every month. If you are unsure about how to perform a self-breast exam, please use this blog as a guide. Visit your healthcare provider promptly at the first sign of any problem and get recommended mammograms. Breast can be treated with success if they are found early. We are here to help. Contact us if you have any questions or to schedule an appointment.