Tumors in breasts can be a major cause of concern for many women. Prompt diagnosis and timely treatment of such growths can keep the condition from developing to a more serious level. This HerHaleness article delves into the details of one such type of tumor, i.e., the fibroid tumor, along with the causes of its occurrence, the symptoms, and treatment options available.
Fibroid tumors are solid growths composed of fibrous tissue, most commonly found in the uterus or breasts of women, known as uterine tumors or fibroid breast tumors respectively. Both, breast and uterine tumors are fairly common in menstruating women, and are usually benign. Fibroids can vary greatly in size, some small enough to need a microscope to view them, while others can weigh several pounds. Fibroids occur in breasts, in more than 30% of women in their childbearing age, and are generally not a major cause of concern. Listed below are the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for this medical condition.
The exact cause of development of these tumors is not known, however, there are some criteria that influence their occurrence. These are as follows:
- They do not occur before the body begins the production of estrogen, at the onset of menstruation during puberty.
- They are prone to very quick growth in pregnant women, in whom, estrogen levels are high.
- Hormone imbalance and changes that lead to differences in the levels of female hormones, progesterone and estrogen, are primarily believed to be responsible for the development of fibroid tumors.
- The chances of these tumors developing in menopausal women is very low.
Since monthly changes in hormonal levels are linked with the development of fibroids, the likelihood of the symptoms being pronounced or aggravated near the beginning of your period, is high. Chances are the symptoms will die down immediately after. Typical symptoms may include the following:
- Irregular shaped lumps or ridges, that appear in the breast, which seem rubbery or movable.
- A feeling of heaviness or fullness in the breast/s
- Extreme breast soreness, tenderness, or swelling
- Dull or severe pain, which may be intermittent or persistent
- Itchiness around the nipple, or a general feeling of discomfort
- Increased breast sensitivity
The treatment begins with the diagnosis of the lump, which could be carried out by a physical examination or a special kind of ultrasound. In most cases, your gynecologist will be able to diagnose the lump through a physical exam, this may be followed by a biopsy to rule out cancer. Once you have been diagnosed with tumors, the following courses of treatment are likely to be your options:
- Medication to provide relief from discomfort and pain, can help ease the symptoms; anti-inflammatory medication and acetaminophen have been found helpful. In certain women, vitamin supplements may also be prescribed to combat discomfort and breast pain.
- These tumors seem to be more common in women, who experience irregular menstrual cycles; oral contraceptives may be useful in regularizing periods and thereby hormone levels.
- Dietary changes may be suggested, to include vitamin and nutrient-rich foods, and help in the maintenance of a healthy weight range. In addition, some women may benefit from cutting down on caffeine and alcohol.
- Wearing a well-fitted bra is also important for proper support. Some women may also benefit by wearing a bra while sleeping, to cut down on pain and discomfort
- If all the above fail to provide a significant improvement, surgical removal of the fibroid may be considered.
High Risk Groups
Research has indicated that occurrence of fibroid tumors in the breasts may be increased in women of African descent. The occurrence of such a tumor puts women at a higher risk of breast cancer. This is most likely because fibroid cells do not respond normally to the stimuli that control cell division, which can, at times, indicate a genetic disorder – this may give rise to cancer. Women in their twenties and thirties, with a family history of breast cancer are also at an increased risk.
It’s important to perform a self examination every month, to detect symptoms of breast tumors early on. If you discover any significant changes in the form of lumps or tissue in the breast area, it’s safest to get yourself to a doctor, who will guide you towards a proper treatment procedure. Although the tumors may not pose a significant threat or risk, it’s best to seek the advice of a trained professional. If you are a part of the high risk group, educate yourself about what are the symptoms to look out for, and take the warning signs seriously. Follow a healthy lifestyle, eat well, and exercise regularly.