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Generalized breast lumpiness

June 10, 2008 - 7:30am
 
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Generalized breast lumpiness

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One common type of benign breast change is a generalized breast lumpiness. This condition is known by several names, including fibrocystic changes and benign breast disease. Such lumpiness, which is sometimes described as "ropy" or "granular," can often be felt in the area around the nipple and areola and in the upper outer part of the breast. Such lumpiness may become more obvious as a woman approaches middle age and the milk-producing glandular tissue of her breasts increasingly gives way to soft, fatty tissue. Unless she is taking replacement hormones, this type of lumpiness generally disappears for good after menopause.

The menstrual cycle also brings change. Many women experience swelling, tenderness, and pain before and sometimes during their periods. At the same time, one or more lumps or a feeling of increased lumpiness may develop, because of extra fluid collecting in the breast tissue. These lumps normally go away by the end of the period.

During pregnancy, the milk-producing glands become swollen and the breasts may feel lumpier than usual. It can be difficult to examine your breasts when you are pregnant, but you should continue to do so; although not common, breast cancer has been diagnosed during pregnancy. If you have a question about the way your breasts feel, talk to your doctor.

Benign breast conditions also include several types of distinct, solitary lumps. Such lumps, which can appear at any time, may be large or small, soft or rubbery, fluid-filled or solid.

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