Medical questions & health advice by licensed doctors
"Can fibrocystic disease be diagnosed by mammogram alone?"
I'm 32 and I just had a mammogram. After, I started doing a lot of reading and getting worried that I might have fibrocystic breast disease. Would the doctor have been able to tell if I do by looking at the mammogram, or would she have had to do a physical exam?
Fibrocystic breast disease is often noted by women by lumpiness in their breasts and sometimes discomfort. It is very important to note that this is a completely benign condition that is seen in a large number of women (approximately 60% of all women have fibrocystic disease). The majority of women are between 30 and 50 years of age, and the symptoms of fibrocystic breast disease diminish after menopause. Mammograms can see fibrocystic changes in the breast, although the important thing to note is that it is possible that these fibrocystic changes can mask underlying cancers on mammograms. Because of this reason, it is important to regularly perform self breast exams and also have regular mammograms and follow up with your primary care doctor if you notice any changes in your breasts. Fibrocystic changes can also be seen on physical examination as lumpy breasts and discomfort upon examination. The differential diagnosis for lumps in breasts that may or may not be tender is beyond the scope of this discussion, and so it is important to discuss your concerns with your primary care doctor who can better assess your presenting symptoms and clinical history and decide upon the appropriate work up and treatment methods if deemed necessary.
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