Breast Cyst


A breast cyst can be a lumpy riddle. Breast lumps are not all indicative of cancer, but vigilance is best.

Breast cysts differ from lumps, and are not nearly as scary. Only one in 1000 cysts turns out to be tumorous, and even fewer of those are malignant. Having breast cysts does not increase a woman’s chances of developing breast cancer.

So if it’s not a tumor and not cancer, what is a breast cyst?

Cysts in the breast are usually formed in the milk producing glands and are sacs filled with fluid, or sometimes solid particles. They range in size from that of a pinhead to a golf ball. Women between the ages of 40 and 60 are in the most common age group for breast cyst development. The number of cysts varies from woman to woman, and although they can occur singularly it is much more common to have multiple cysts.

Breast Cyst symptoms

The most common symptom is simply finding a growth or swelling in your breast during a routine breast exam. Breast Cyst feel like small balls, which vary in size beneath the surface of the skin in the breast tissues. They are smooth, round and move easily when touched. Some women experience tenderness of the breasts.

What caused the breast cyst?

The exact cause of cyst growth in the breast is still not well understood. Because the cysts are formed in the milk producing glands the best causal theories focus here. It is likely that a simple imbalance of fluid production vs. fluid absorption is the cause. Other theories that explain cyst genesis include: infection, genetic inheritance, or chronic inflammatory diseases such as fibrocystic disease.

Find relief from Breast Cysts

There is more good news in the treatment department. Approximately 50% of women who experience breast cyst report that they go away on their own after a few months. This is great news indeed, but it is still a good idea to talk to your doctor before adopting a do nothing approach. What you think is a cyst may not actually be one.

For women who seek the help of their health care provider, they can expect several tests and treatments. A breast exam is of course very normal as is the recommendation of a mammogram or breast ultrasound. All these tests help to diagnose exactly what this curious lump is, and isn’t. Ultrasound in particular is highly useful with an accuracy rate of 95-100%.

For further testing, or simple relief from pressure and swelling caused by large cysts. Your doctor may recommend aspiration of the breast cyst. This is done by inserting a syringe into the cyst and drawing out some of the content. In addition to lessening discomfort, valuable information about the cyst is also attained. A sample can be sent for analysis.

More invasive treatments may include surgery to get a biopsy or complete removal of the breast cyst.


National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Visit the NBCAM site to get more information and valuable free resources for patients, families and friends.

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