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Everything You Need to Know About Breast Cysts


Everything You Need to Know About Breast Cysts

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.

Key Points

  • Cysts can range in size from a pinhead to a golf ball.
  • A breast cyst is smooth, round, and mobile.
  • Generally, breast cysts go away on their own. If they do not or are particularly large, your doctor may recommend treatment.

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 younger than 50 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 cysts 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 Causes Breast Cysts?

The exact cause of cyst growth in the breast is still not well understood. One common theory is that hormonal changes throughout your menstrual cycle can cause breast cysts to form. 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 cysts 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. An 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.

What Does Breast Cancer Feel Like?

It's important to understand what a cancerous lump may feel like in your breast. Often, cancer is discovered through self-examination. Cancerous lumps are usually hard and irregularly shaped. They're also often found close to the skin, rather than deeper in the breast tissue.

If you're unable to move a lump in your breast, it's a reason for concern. Schedule an appointment for a breast exam as soon as possible. It's important to keep in mind that mammograms may not be able to pick up early-stage cancer in individuals with dense breast tissue; for this reason, don't be afraid to push for an ultrasound if you think something is wrong.

Other symptoms of breast cancer include: irritation or dimpling of the breast skin, redness or flaky skin around the nipple or on the breast, nipple pain, abnormal breast pain, and discharge from the breast. If you experience any of these symptoms, especially if they're accompanied by a lump, seek medical treatment right away. Fortunately, breast cancer is often very treatable.

Do not take the content of this article as professional medical adviceIt's important to exercise due diligence when obtaining relevant information in matters pertaining to your health. Always consult with your healthcare provider before making any medical decisions.

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