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Breast cyst

AGE  Most common between the ages of 30 and 50GENDER  
LIFESTYLE  Not significant factorsGENETICS  Not significant factors

A breast cyst is a firm, round, fluid-filled swelling within the breast tissue.

Breast cyst
© Jupiter

A breast cyst is a firm, round lump in the breast tissue that forms when a lobule (the part of the breast that produces milk) fills with fluid. The development of cysts is influenced by levels of female sex hormones. Breast cysts most often affect women aged 30-50, particularly those approaching the menopause.

A cyst may be felt just under the skin or may occur deeper within the breast tissue. The lump is usually not painful.

Breast cysts may occur singly, but in about half of all cases there is more than one cyst, and both breasts may be affected. Some women also have generalized lumpiness of the breast tissue.

You should always consult your doctor if you detect a lump during breast self-examination so that the possibility of breast cancer can be ruled out. In rare cases, cancerous cells may be found in the wall of a cyst.

What might be done?

If your doctor suspects a cyst, he or she may refer you to a breast clinic, where you may have a physical examination and breast imaging by ultrasound scanning or mammography.

The usual treatment is to drain the cysts of fluid (see Aspiration of a breast lump), which may then be examined for cancerous cells. Cysts usually disappear after aspiration but may recur, requiring further drainage. If cysts recur frequently, they may be removed surgically, but this is not usually necessary.

Posted 09.09.2010

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