Breasts are an integral part of a woman’s anatomy. And with passage of time, we are hearing a term too often and that is Breast Cysts.Let us understand what a Breast Cyst is.
Breasts are made up of lobules and ducts that produce and carry milk to the nipples and are surrounded by tissues. Often fluid-filled sacs form in the breast tissues. These fluid-filled sacs within the breasts are known as cysts. They are generally non-cancerous or benign in nature and can occur in one or both the breasts simultaneously. Breast cysts are usually soft, similar to a grape, but they can be firm too.
Breasts cysts usually do not require any kind of immediate treatment unless the cyst has grown in size or has become painful or uncomfortable. Simple draining of the fluid will do the trick.
Breast cysts are common among women between the ages of 35 to 50, but several cases of post menopause breast cysts have been found in women during hormonal therapies.
Breasts cysts are common among women; however, men too develop breast cysts.
Types of Breast Cysts
Breast cysts are generally classified into two based on their size,
- Microcysts, cyst that is small in size and not seen by naked eye.
- Macrocysts, cyst that is large and can be felt by hand. They grow usually upto 1 to 2 inches in size and are painful.
Breast Cyst Symptoms
Breast cysts can occur at any time, or at any age. One can know if they have breast cyst if they find –
- A round or oval lump with distinctive edges.
- Clear, yellow, or brown discharge from the nipples.
- Pain or discomfort in the affected area.
- Increase in the lump size before the onset of periods.
- Decrease in the lump size and pain after the periods.
The appearance of these symptoms directly point to cysts, however, visiting a doctor if you suspect a lump is necessary. A cyst in the breast may not be harmful or cancerous but it may prevent the doctor from seeing other cysts present in the breasts or other cancerous presence that might require immediate attention and supervision.
Breast Cyst Causes
Breasts are made up of lobules and glandular and fatty tissues that support the lobules and ducts and give the breasts their shape. Any accumulation of fluid within the glands causes cysts to form.
However, the main cause of breast cysts is still unknown to the experts. They are of the opinion that hormonal changes within the body and excessive estrogen levels can be the reason for breast cysts.
Breast Cyst Diagnosis
Upon consultation, your doctor will suggest breast examination, that is done manually by the doctor and further prescribe mammogram or breast ultrasound. Depending upon the result of the examination and the imaging tests, doctor will decide on the best course of action, which may be either biopsy or fine needle aspiration.
Breast examination is done by the doctor manually to find the occurrence of any lumps. But the physical examination is not enough to confirm if the lump is a cyst or a cancerous lump. Here, the breast ultrasound will help in diagnosing if the lump is fluid-filled or solid. Solid lumps may be cancerous or not and to determine that the doctor will further recommend a biopsy.
Fine needle aspiration is a process where a fine needle is inserted inside the lump to draw the fluid in order to know the nature of the lump. Ultrasound directs the expert placement of the needle in the correct place. If and when the fluid is completely drawn and the lump reduces or disappears, the possibility of cancer is ruled out and cysts are confirmed and treated at the same time.
However, if the fluid is drawn and is found bloody, the sample is sent to the labs for further investigation and specialists are brought in to know what is exactly happening. And, if no fluid is drawn and the lump is solid, it is a cause for concern and imaging tests are prescribed.
Breast Cyst Treatment
A general breast cyst does not require any kind of treatment and is no cause for worry; whereas, if the lump is painful and has grown in size, immediate attention is required. It may not be a simple cyst but might be cancerous lump too. Upon diagnosis, the doctor will decide on the best treatment method that can be done.
However, if the lump persists or reappears and has become painful, one or more treatment methods may be employed.
Fine needle aspiration
As mentioned earlier, fine needle aspiration is used both as a diagnosis and treatment method for cysts. One might require inquisition by fine needle more than once in order to draw the entire fluid or in case the cyst reappears.
Doctors prescribe hormones in order to control erratic menstrual cycles and thereby, prevent repeated occurrence of cysts. However, longer use of hormones such as oral contraceptive pills has adverse effect on the body. Thus, doctors cannot prescribe this remedy for longer time except for severe cases.
Surgery is the last resort to clear breast cysts, only in extreme cases. When no other measure works and cyst is growing at a faster rate, surgery is prescribed.
Making Lifestyle Changes Helps
Medicines and surgery have a far greater impact on curing breast cysts but making a few lifestyle changes also helps.
- Wear comfortable and right fitting bra.
- Applying compress to the affected area.
- Avoid alcohol, caffeine and drugs as they increase the symptoms.
- Take Over the counter relief medicines if the problem is not too serious and painful.
It is better to be precautious rather than sorry. If you feel a lump of any kind, it is better to pay your doctor a visit and be relaxed.
Also, Read About: Breast Cancer Symptoms, Types and Risk Factors