Breast cysts are fluid-filled sacs within the breast. A woman may have a single cyst or many cysts. They are often described as round with distinct edges. A large cyst can be felt in the breast and usually feels like a soft grape or a water-filled balloon. Breast cysts are common in women over 30 years of age and usually disappear after menopause, except in cases where the women are taking hormone therapy.
One important thing to know is that a simple cyst does not increase the risk of developing breast cancer. If you detect the presence of any new breast lumps or if an already identified breast lump seems to have grown, please seek medical attention in order to get it checked out.
Each of the breasts contains 15-20 lobes of glandular tissue. The lobes are further divided into smaller lobules that produce milk. Ducts then carry the produced milk. Breast cysts develop when an overgrowth of glands and connective tissue blocks the milk ducts, causing them to widen and fill with fluid.
The cause of breast cysts remains unknown. They may be caused by excess estrogen in the body. The following screening and diagnosis procedure of a breast cyst usually begins after a breast lump is identified by you or a doctor:
No treatment is necessary for simple breast cysts. The doctor may recommend closely monitoring a breast cyst to see if its size changes.
The fine-needle aspiration procedure which is used to diagnose a breast cyst also serves as treatment when the doctor removes all the fluid from the cyst resulting in the breast lump disappearing and the symptoms clearing up. The doctor will locate the position of the breast cyst and insert a needle to withdraw fluid. For more accuracy, ultrasound will be used to guide the accurate placement of the needle. After the fluid has been withdrawn from a breast cyst, a recurrence or new cysts are very common.
Using birth control pills to regulate the menstrual cycles may help reduce the recurrence of breast cysts. Discontinuing hormone replacement therapy during the postmenopausal years may reduce the formation of cysts as well.
In some cases, the surgical removal of cyst is necessary. Surgery may be considered for an uncomfortable breast cyst or if a breast cyst contains blood-tinged fluid or shows other worrisome signs of cancer.
For prevention of breast cysts, you should wear a well-fitted and supportive bra to help relieve some discomfort. Avoid coffee. There is no scientific proof that coffee consumption is linked to breast cysts. However, some women find relief from their symptoms after stopping coffee consumption. It’s also recommended to reduce salt in the diet because sodium increases the congestion of excess fluid retained by the body.
Moreover, Breast self-examination should be done at least once each month. In case of finding any abnormality, please seek immediate medical attention.
The Second Class Honors M.D., Faculty of Medicine, Ramathibodi Hospital, Mahidol University, 1994.