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Breast cysts are non-cancerous(benign) breast conditions that occur as a result of the development of fluid-filled sacs inside the breast that often feel like a grape or water-filled balloon. An individual may have one or many breast cysts at the same time. 

 Treatment for breast cysts might not be necessary unless a breast cyst is big, unpleasant, or painful. Symptoms may be lessened by emptying the fluid from a breast cyst. 

Symptoms of Breast Cysts 

Common symptoms of breast cysts include: 

  • Nipple discharge 
  • Breast-lump-related discomfort in the breast 
  • Increase in breast lump size and tenderness just before an individual’s menstruation period 
  • A circular or oval lump that is smooth, easily moveable, and may have smooth edges 
  • The breast lump size decreases after the menstruation period 

Causes of Breast Cysts 

Breast cysts commonly occur as a result of fluctuating levels of the estrogen hormone whereby the fluid is created by estrogen during the menstrual period. Although breast cysts can occur at any age, women over 35 are the ones who are more likely to be affected. 

Diagnosis of Breast Cysts 

The diagnosis of breast cysts involves physical breast examination, imaging tests, and a breast biopsy or fine needle aspiration. 

Breast exam 

During a breast exam, the doctor will ask the patient a number of questions regarding her health history and physically examine the breast lump and check for any other breast abnormalities. He/she will recommend more tests because a breast exam alone is not reliable to determine whether a breast lump is a cyst. 

Imaging tests 

There are two types of imaging tests that are used to test breast cysts: 

  • Mammography: A mammogram can detect large cysts and clusters of small cysts, however, microcysts are difficult to be detected by a mammogram. 
  • Ultrasound-This imaging test will help determine whether a breast lump is fluid-filled or solid. Solid-looking masses are usually benign lumps, but they can sometimes represent breast cancer. 
  • Fine-needle aspiration: If the lump can easily be felt, the doctor performs this procedure whereby a thin needle will be injected into the breast lump to collect the fluid for confirmation if it is a fluid-filled cyst. 

Treatment of Breast Cysts 

Simple breast cysts especially those that are fluid-filled without presenting any other symptoms may not require any treatment. Most cysts will disappear without any therapy. However, the patient should consult her doctor if a cyst persists, feels firmer, or if she observes skin changes in the area over the cyst. 

Some forms of treatment for breast cysts include: 

Hormone use: The patient may be advised to use oral contraceptives to regulate her menstrual cycles as this may help to reduce the recurrence of breast cysts. Birth control pills or other hormone therapy, such as tamoxifen, are only recommended for women with severe symptoms due to their potential adverse effects. 

Fine-needle aspiration: If all the cyst’s fluid can be removed during a fine-needle aspiration procedure, the patient’s breast lump will go away. In this case, the fine-needle aspiration may be performed to diagnose and treat the breast cyst. 

Surgery: Although rare, the doctor may recommend to surgically remove the cysts if they are persistent or if a cyst shows other sinister signs like the presence of blood in the fluid. 

 

 

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