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Breast Cysts
Breast cysts are fluid filled sacs within your breast.  You can have one or many breast cysts.  They usually feel like a fluid filled balloon with distinct edges.  Breast cysts are common in all women, but in particular women in their 30s and 40s.  They usually disappear after menopause unless a woman is on hormone replacement.

  • Symptoms:    
      • A smooth, easily movable round or oval breast lump which is well circumscribed.
      • Breast pain or tenderness in the area of the breast lump.  This can be acute in nature.
      • Increase in breast tenderness just before your period
      • Decrease in breast lump size and tenderness after your period.

  • Causes:  Each of your breast contains lobes of glandular tissue, arranged like the petals of a daisy.  The lobes produce milk during pregnancy and breast-feeding.  Small ducts conduct the milk to a reservoir just beneath your nipple.   Cysts develop when an overgrowth of glands and connective tissue block ducts, causing them to dilate and fill with fluid. 

  • Tests and diagnosis:  Screening and diagnosis of a breast cyst usually begins with a clinical breast exam by your provider.  Other tests that can be helpful include:

Breast Ultrasound:  An ultrasound can help determine whether a lump is fluid-filled or solid.  A fluid-filled area usually indicates a breast cyst.  Based on what the radiologist may see on the ultrasound, your doctor might recommend a biopsy of aspiration.

Cyst aspiration:  During this procedure, your doctor inserts a needle into the cyst to remove the fluid.  If the fluid comes out and the breast lump goes away, your doctor can make a breast cyst diagnosis right away.

  • Surgery:  Surgical removal of a breast cyst is necessary only in a few unusual circumstances.  If an uncomfortable breast cyst recurs, or if a breast cyst contains other worrisome signs, surgery may be considered.