Tender or lumpy breasts are one of the most common reasons why women consult their gynecologists for assessment and treatment. Since painful breasts are not always lumpy, and lumpy breasts are not always painful (and neither is usually abnormal), it is useful to create descriptive categories of symptoms and conditions to replace the generic term “fibrocystic”. Virtually all knowledgeable health care providers agree that the term fibrocystic breast “disease” or “condition” should be abandoned in favor of a more accurate physiologically based description. First of all, the benign breast conditions that are present in almost all of us to some degree should never have been given the “disease” label in the first place. Moreover, the widespread misconception that women with painful or lumpy breasts are at increased risk of breast cancer borders on the tragic. Unfortunately, our health care system requires a diagnostic code to reimburse services, and fibrocystic breast disease has one, even though the medical literature is replete with reasons why it shouldn’t. This reinforces misinformation and fear and obscures the safe and simple means that exist for obtaining relief and reassurance.
Sandra Ishkanes is a Functional Medicine specialist. She takes a whole-body approach to healthcare, combining nutrition, lifestyle and cutting-edge medical testing.
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