How are fibrocystic breast changes diagnosed?

Any changes or masses found in the breast should be brought to the attention of your doctor as soon as possible. He or she will first want to see if the growth is cancerous or benign. The first steps in doing this are often mammograms or ultrasound scans. Ultrasounds alone may be used for young women, as their breast tissue is often too dense to evaluate with mammography.

Your doctor may be able to determine if the mass is benign based on the density, shape, and other imaging characteristics.

However, he or she may not be able to make such determination based solely on the images. They may also need to perform a biopsy to get a sample of the tissue. This can usually be done with a needle in the breast center, although sometimes surgery is necessary. With a biopsy, your doctor can determine if a lump is solid or a cyst, and whether or not it is cancerous.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 04/09/2014.


  • Ferri FF. Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2012, 5 Books in 1, Expert Consult - Online and Print. Elsevier Health Sciences; 2011.
  • McPhee SJ, Papadakis M, Rabow MW. CURRENT Medical Diagnosis and Treatment 2012, Fifty-First Edition. McGraw Hill Professional; 2011.
  • American Cancer Society. Types of non-cancerous breast conditions Accessed 4/10/14.

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