Breast cancer and fibroids

Breast cancer is linked to the BRCA gene and a genetic DNA test can indicate whether you are likely to develop this condition over the course of your life.

With breast fibroids, scientific advances have also found genetic links. The study in question was pioneered by the University of Helsinki and tracked down the development of fibroids to a mutation is a gene, the MED12 gene.

The frequency of this gene mutation in women with breast fibroids has been found to be extremely high, which has spurred scientists to establish casual links.

This is a protein-coding gene may in some cases be disrupted for reasons that are currently speculative. However, the disruption in the activity of the gene caused by the mutation may cause breast fibroids.

The discovery of course could have huge implications towards bettering the quality of treatment, early diagnosis and targeted therapies (special types of medication that set to block the growth and spread of cells, usually cancer cells).

What are the Typical Symptoms of Breast Fibroids?

Your menstrual cycle plays a significant role in the development of breast fibroids, therefore the symptoms of the disease normally worsen just before the menstrual period and improve immediately after the period.

Some important symptoms are:

  • Irregularly shaped areas of thicker tissue with a lumpy or ridge-like surface appearing in the breast
  • Feeling of fullness or heaviness
  • Extreme sensitivity to touch
  • A burning sensation
  • Dull ache or severe pain
  • Premenstrual tenderness and swelling
  • Changes in nipple sensation and itching
  • Breast discomfort, which may be either persistent or intermittent 

How can Breast Fibroids be Diagnosed?

The primarily method of diagnosing breast fibroids is by physically feeling and touching the lumpy areas. These areas are mostly concentrated in the upper quadrant (the area close to the armpit) of the breast.

These lumps are movable, as they are not attached to the underlying tissue. They may be rounded with smooth borders, rubbery, tiny and bead-like, irregular or ridge-like. The characteristics of the lumpy areas usually vary from one woman to another.

The second widely prevalent method for the detection of breast fibroids is mammography. However, it can be very difficult to examine extremely fibrocystic breasts by touching and feeling, or by mammograms. In such cases, specialized ultrasound examination is quite helpful.

Other methods used to diagnose breast fibroids include biopsy and aspiration of the breast.

Biopsy may sometimes be necessary to make an accurate diagnosis and to differentiate between breast fibroids and breast cancer.

Aspiration of breasts with a fine needle can be done to detect the presence of large cysts.

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