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Breast cyst

In general, cysts are fluid-filled sacs that can occur in human body. In breasts usually cysts form within the milk ducts or from enlarged milk glands. Breast cyst is fluid-filled sac that grows within breast tissue. Commonly breast cysts occur in women of reproductive age (35-55) – during period of active hormonal fluctuations. Some breast cysts could grow back during perimenopause and disappear during menopause. Women could discover single cyst or several cysts and cysts could range in size (as small as pea and as large as ping-pong ball). According to health experts, breast cysts are benign and harmless and sometimes can disappear without treatment. In 30% cases breast cysts occur in both breasts. Often breast cysts could be discovered during routine annual breast screening.

Women could feel breast cysts like round smooth moving lumps. Often size of breast cysts could change depending on period of menstrual cycle (depending on hormones). Often breast cysts become larger and feel tender just before expected menstrual period. If breast cysts covered by specific fibrous tissue, this condition called “fibrocystic breasts”.

Breast cyst causes

Breast cyst is hormone depending benign tumor which could develop under influence of natural female hormones or because of hormonal dysfunctions or during hormonal therapy (such as hormone replacement therapy). Breast cyst development links to estrogen production – it is formed when breast ducts become dilated and fill with fluid.

As breast cysts depend on hormonal fluctuations, they could change sizes during different trimesters of menstrual cycle. During perimenopause and menopause (period of natural hormonal decline) cysts could become smaller and even can disappear.

Breast cyst

Breast cysts symptoms

  • Smooth easily movable round or oval breast mass (breast lump) with distinct edges;
  • Breast discomfort or pain or tenderness in zone of breast lump (especially before menstrual period);
  • Changes in breast cyst (breast lump) sizes depending on period of menstrual cycle (increase closer to expected period and decrease just after menstrual period);
  • Unusual nipple discharge (clear or yellow or brownish).

Breast cyst diagnosis

Breast cyst diagnostic tests are usually performed step by step.

Breast self-exam or medical breast examination

Breast self-exam is recommended for all women starting from puberty. Breast self-exam steps are described in next article.
Breast medical examination should be performed every time during visit to gynecologist and always when woman notice breast lump.

Screening mammography

Screening mammography is the only routine screening programme available for women presently. While annual screening mammography is not perfect, it is the best way presently to detect breast cysts. Women should be eligible for screening mammograms starting at age 40.

On mammogram breast cysts can be seen as a smooth round liquid filled mass in breast tissue.

Breast ultrasound

Ultrasound breast testing can clarify not only zone of cyst but also can help determine whether breast lump (breast tumor) is fluid-filled or solid. Ultrasound is also able to describe simple cyst or complex cyst. Ultrasound breast cyst diagnostic can be considered as the best and most accurate (up to 95-100% accuracy).

Breast cyst aspiration

Breast cyst aspiration can be considered not only as diagnostic test but also as a type of treatment because during aspiration whole fluid can be aspirated. It could be ideal solution for proper diagnostic (microscopic analysis of fluid) and full aspiration of cyst’s fluid. Breast cyst could completely disappear when drained.

Biopsy

In cases of abnormal results after aspiration or in cases rapid grow of cyst or in cases of unusual breast mass the diagnostic breast tissue biopsy can be recommended with following microscopic analysis. Possible intra-cystic carcinoma should be excluded.

Breast cyst and breast cancer

Breast cysts rarely turn into breast cancer. Almost all breast cysts are identified as simple benign tumors. Women with breast cysts are not at greater risk for breast cancer although this risk may be slightly higher in cases of family history of breast cancer.

Benign breast cyst is usually round or oval, firm or rubbery with smooth edges, moving easily under skin. In cases of malignant transformations, breast lump become hard with unusual shape (non-uniform) and irregular edges (not clearly clarified) and movements are limited (fixed to skin or chest wall).


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