(Benign Breast Masses; Breast Cysts; Cystic Disease; Chronic Cystic Mastitis; Mammary Dysplasia)
by Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Breasts are made up of ducts, milk glands, and fatty and fibrous tissues. Fibrocystic disease is when there are fluid-filled lumps (cysts) of duct tissue. These lumps are surrounded by a scar-like capsule of tissue in the breasts.
The glands in the breasts change throughout the monthly cycle. They get bigger to get ready for a pregnancy. They shrink if pregnancy does not happen. This cycling causes cysts and fibrous tissue to build up. All women will have some form of this problem during their reproductive years. Most women will not seek medical care.
All women between puberty and menopause are at risk for this problem.
These harmless lumps can sometimes cause pain that happens late in each menstrual cycle.
A woman may have:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done.
It can be hard to tell the difference between this disease and breast cancer. Pictures may be taken of the breasts. This can be done with a mammogram.
No treatment is needed unless there is pain. Choices are:
There are no known guidelines to prevent this problem.
American Cancer Society
Women's Health—US Department of Health and Human Services
Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation
Women's Health Matters
Phyllodes tumor of breast. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
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Accessed October 15, 2020.
Tan PH, Ellis IO. Myoepithelial and epithelial-myoepithelial, mesenchymal and fibroepithelial breast lesions: updates from the WHO Classification of Tumours of the Breast 2012. J Clin Pathol. 2013 Jun;66(6):465-470.
Last reviewed September 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Elliot M. Levine, MD, FACOG
Last Updated: 4/27/2021