Fibrocystic breast disease
Breast nodules are a frequently presented gynecologic complaint. These nodules have two chief causes: benign breast disease and cancer. However, benign breast disease is the most common cause of nodules and can stem from cyst formation, obstructed ducts, inflammation, or infection.
Fibrocystic breast disease (FBD) is a condition generally characterized by lumps that move freely in the breast tissue and vary in texture and size (Lark 1996). However, because the clinical signs of breast cancer are not easily distinguished from benign breast conditions, all breast lumps should be examined by a physician and not be assumed to be benign. Only a physician can determine the nature of breast lumps or changes (National Cancer Institute 2001a).
Because FBD is a benign condition, it usually does not lead to breast cancer (American Cancer Society 1991, 1997; National Cancer Institute 2001b). Fortunately, only about 5% of FBD cases involve the type of changes that would be considered a risk factor for developing breast cancer. However, benign conditions may eventually result in calcifications (Anon. 1998). Calcifications are quite small--sometimes as small as a grain of salt--and cannot be detected during a routine exam; however, calcifications may be detected by routine mammography. Since calcifications may be associated with some types of pre-malignant lesions, it is important to follow your physician's recommendations concerning the frequency of mammography (AMA 1989).
Borage and flaxseed oils modulate inflammatory prostaglandins (Mancuso et al. 1997; Belch et al. 2000), often giving considerable relief to FBD symptoms. It may take 4-6 weeks before there is noticeable improvement. Nonetheless, treatment should be continued for 4-8 months.
Since 1965, using vitamin E has been recommended by some researchers for treatment of FBD (Abrams 1965). However, researchers are not unified concerning the use of vitamin E to successfully treat or manage FBD and evidence has been inconclusive. Vitamin E in the form of alpha-tocopherol has corrected abnormal estrogen-progesterone ratios in some patients with mammary dysplasia (London et al. 1981).