When is a lump in the breast not cause for concern? Many women would say never.

However, there are times when benign (or non-threatening) fibrocystic changes occur within breast tissue.

Fibrocystic changes are related to fluctuating hormones and occur most often in women between ages 20 and 50. Menstrual cycle, bulimia nervosa, anorexia nervosa, pregnancy or breast-feeding can all be factors. Women experiencing fibrocystic changes may experience pain, swelling and a thickness in the breast. But, if you find tissue that feels harder than usual even after your menstrual cycle, check-in with your doctor for further evaluation.

If you’re a woman who consumes a lot of caffeinated beverages or chocolate, eliminating those things from your diet at the time pain and swelling usually occur, could help ease your discomfort.

Meanwhile, women should begin performing regular breast-self-exams at age 20; checking for changes in appearance, skin color and texture. And don’t forget to look carefully at the lower armpit area for potential swelling of lymph nodes.

You’ll find a step-by-step, illustrated breast-self-exam instruction guide at this link.


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