Breast cysts are small fluid-filled bags on the breast. It is normally benign, which means it is not cancerous. It is a grape-like sac filled with fluid. You may have one or multiple breast cysts at a time. These cysts are more common in women before their menopause. The breast contains lubes of glandular tissues. A breast cyst occurs when fluid accumulates inside one of these glands. Some of these sacs of fluid are too small to be felt. When they grow bigger they can become very uncomfortable.
There are two different types of breast cysts – simple and complicated. Simple breast cysts are cysts filled entirely with fluid. This type of breast cyst is almost always non-cancerous. And then there are complicated breast cysts that contain solid fragments floating with the fluid in the sac.
Breast cysts are very common amongst females in their late childbearing years. Sometimes these cysts are confused as lumps that can cause cancer but around a quarter of these fluid sacs turn out to be just breast cysts.
According to the National Institutes of Health, around 7% of women in the United States will develop breast cysts at some point in their lives.
There is no defined cause for breast cysts. According to many experts, they can be formed due to hormonal fluctuations. The breast contains glandular tissues which produce milk during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Breast cysts form when fluid piles up inside these glands. The size of the cysts varies. There are microcysts that are hard to detect, and macrocysts that are large enough to be felt.
Breast Cysts can be formed on one or both sides of the breast. Following are the breast cyst’s symptoms and signs.
- A grape-like bump or sac on the breast that has smooth edges. It is in most cases noncancerous
- Yellow or dark brown discharge from the nipple
- Breast pain around the area where the breast cyst is formed
- An increase and decrease in the lump size before and after your period.
Having breast cysts does not mean your chances of getting cancer have increased but it can be harder to find the breast lumps that may be cancerous. It is during menstruation when the symptoms of breast cysts pain tend to get worse. You may feel the cyst inside the breast becoming lumpy and painful during menstruation.
The breast cysts diagnosis may include the following:
- Breast Exam:
A preventive care physician will physically examine the breast cysts to look for any abnormalities that may be there. You will be asked questions about your family health history and other symptoms that you might be experiencing. The physician will then recommend a test like ultrasound or he/she will recommend needle aspiration or biopsy
- Imaging Tests
There are two types of tests that are done to screen breast cysts.
- Breast Ultrasound
- Fine-needle aspiration
Fine needle aspiration is a biopsy procedure. A thin needle is inserted into the area where the breast cyst is being formed. The sample collected will help make a diagnosis and rule out cancer.
Most of the time treatment is not required for breast cysts because they are not harmful and sometimes they even go away on their own. But OF the breast cyst begins to feel uncomfortable, you may need breast cyst treatment. Your preventive care physician will drain the fluid cyst in the breast with a needle biopsy. However, the fluid can come back. If it comes back again and is causing breast cyst pain continuously, you may need surgery to remove it.
For complex or complicated breast cysts, you may need more frequent checkups to stay on top of everything and be aware of your condition.
When to see a doctor?
Typically, breast cysts are not dangerous or life-threatening. You should see a physician if the cysts start growing or become too painful. If you are exhibiting any other symptoms along with the breast cyst see a preventive care physician immediately.
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