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Cysts in Breasts

Cysts have made my breasts tender. What can I do?

Question

I am 47, childless, and over the past year have developed multiple cysts in both breasts, which are tender when touched. One cyst has been drained; it then refilled and had to be drained again. My doctor has recommended evening primrose oil capsules but has no other advice. My periods are irregular and I have also suffered from what the doctor described as the breakdown of calcium, down my sides from my armpit, which was also very tender. Can you offer any advice as to how these symptoms can be alleviated?

Answer

While women are of child-bearing age, breast tissue goes though phenomenal changes, growing and subsiding according to the hormonal cycle. It's because of this continual activity that the risk of abnormal growth is high.

The main reproductive hormones are oestrogen and progesterone. At puberty, these initiate the development of breasts, which are comprised of ducts (tubes) and alveolar tissue, similar to the alveoli (air sacs) found in the lungs. During pregnancy, the alveolar tissue grows under the influence of oestrogen and progesterone, plus prolactin (the milk-producing hormone produced by the pituitary) and placental lactogen (the hormone produced by the placenta in the final stages of pregnancy). Milk is produced in the alveolar tissue, collected by the ducts and drawn down towards the nipples.

In the second half of the menstrual cycle, oestrogen and progesterone stimulate the breast (alveolar) tissue to grow in case the woman becomes pregnant. That's why the breasts swell and often become painful before a period. If menstruation starts, the body understands there is no pregnancy so breast tissue shrinks.

Sometimes, the breast tissue develops cysts. These are like soft-shelled eggs filled with fluid, which grow in size and can be very worrying because they feel like lumps. They will expand naturally as the menstrual cycle progresses, as I've explained, then shrink again. So the best time to examine the breasts is between the fifth and seventh days of the cycle when cysts (and lumps) will be at their smallest. Any abnormality felt at this time should be checked out with your doctor.

Cysts are diagnosed by ultrasound and mammogram. Although most cysts are benign (harmless), any growth has to be treated as suspicious, so doctors aspirate (draw off) the fluid and examine it this is called a biopsy. Drawing off the liquid also shrinks the cyst, as you've found, so the process is both diagnosis and treatment. Unfortunately, technology is not yet completely accurate or reliable, so you should make sure that your cysts are checked regularly to be on the safe side.
As far as the breakdown of calcium is concerned, I suggest hat you ask for a second opinion. I would advise a biopsy on this.

If the results of tests on your cysts continue to show no malignancy I suggest you try the following:

  • Aim to manage stress, relax and regulate your lifestyle. This is essential to maintain well being and correct any abnormalities that cause cells to behave erratically.
  • I have produced a self-help DVD that explains my programme of diet, exercise, relaxation and massage, from the Integrated Medical Centre. The yoga exercises are shown by someone 90 years old.
  • Massage your breast with cocoa butter twice a week at bedtime. Gently squeeze the hard little cysts and try to flatten them. Once the breast tissue feels smooth, do this massage top once a week or fortnightly. This gives you a chance to feel the breast for any abnormality as well as keeping the tissue soft.
  • Take multivitamin daily for three months.
  • Take a l5mg tablet of zinc every other day for two months.
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