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Breast Cysts

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Do you feel an unusual lump in your breast? Do no panic, it might just be a simple breast cyst. This is a benign condition in the majority of the cases. It is a common problem in about 1 in 3 pre-menopausal women. So, what are these breast cysts? Let us find out.

What are Breast Cysts?

Breast cysts are a benign condition that can develop in one or both breasts. These cysts are fluid-filled sacs within the breast. There can be more than one cyst in the breast. These cysts are round or oval lumps and have a specified edge. You will feel them like grapes or a water-balloon in the breast tissue. They are as small as beads or as large as a tennis ball. They can appear anywhere within the breasts. At times these cysts can make one feel uncomfortable and cause pain. Just before the period, these cysts may grow larger and feel tender. For some women, these cysts may not cause any symptoms at all.

Breasts are made up of milk-producing glands and ducts that carry the milk to the nipple. These glands and ducts are surrounded by glandular, fibrous and fatty tissue. These cysts can sometimes develop in the breast tissue.

Breast cysts can occur in women of any age, but are more common in women above the age of 35. As the woman gets closer to their menopausal age, they appear more often. However, once the woman crosses menopausal age, the cysts will stop appearing


The breast cysts symptoms include:

  • A smooth, round or oval lump that can move around when touched with distinct edges
  • Cysts are usually seen in one breast, but can appear in both breasts
  • Tenderness in breast
  • Breast pain
  • Increase in lump size and tenderness before period that may decrease after the period is over


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Breast cysts develop when fibrocystic changes in the glands and connective tissue of the breast. This blocks the milk ducts that dilate them and fills them up with fluid. What causes these cysts to develop is still has no concrete answer.


Breast cysts are often detected by women themselves. They are often worried it is something cancerous and visit their doctor for further diagnosis. Cysts are diagnosed after taking a detailed medical history and conducting physical examinations. Mammogram is used as a diagnostic test. A breast ultrasound can help indicate if the cysts are fluid-filled or a solid lump that can be breast cancer. A fine needle aspiration is also conducted along with an ultrasound. The fluid is withdrawn from the cysts. If the fluid comes out and the cysts disappear, it is immediately diagnosed as breast cysts.


Breast cysts require no treatment. They are left alone, if they do not cause any discomfort. When these cysts become too large, painful or cause discomfort, a fine needle aspiration biopsy is conducted. If the cysts return, the woman may require surgery. In some cases, oral contraceptives are prescribed as hormone therapy to prevent the recurrence of cysts and regulation of the menstrual cycle.

Any lump in the breast should be examined by the doctor. Breast cysts are benign, but there is a slight chance of them turning cancerous. Therefore, visit the doctor for further examination and diagnosis to be safe from cancer.

Written by: Saptakee sengupta
Date last updated: April 05, 2015

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