Breast cyst

    Last updated date: 11-Jul-2023

    Originally Written in English

    Breast cyst

    Breast cyst

    A breast cyst is a fluid-filled sac that forms within the breast. It is normally benign or noncancerous, and one can have a single or numerous cysts. Generally, a breast cyst feels like a grape or a water-filled balloon in most cases, and it can sometimes be hard. 

    Breast cysts can affect women of any age, but they're more common in those below 50 (before menopause). They are also frequent among postmenopausal females on hormone therapy. Unless a breast cyst is huge, painful, or uncomfortable, it does not need treatment. In this scenario, fluid draining from the breast cyst might help to alleviate the symptoms.


    Breast Cyst Categories 

    There are three categories of a breast cyst, including; 

    Simple breast cyst: This is a breast cyst that is filled with fluid and has soft borders and thinner walls. Most of them are always noncancerous or benign. A simple cyst occurs as a result of fibrocystic alterations.

    A complicated breast cyst: This is one in which some solid particles float about in the fluid. The doctor can recommend a breast cyst aspiration or taking out fluid using a needle for further analysis (breast biopsy).

    A complex breast cyst: This form of a breast cyst is generally concerning since they seem to contain solid tissue that might be malignant. The medical professional will perform a needle biopsy if you have this cyst.


    Signs and Symptoms of Breast Cyst 

    A breast cyst can develop in one breast or both of them. The following are the most common signs and symptoms of a breast cyst

    • An easy and smoothly moving round or oval lump with smooth edges can usually, but not always, be a sign that it is benign.
    • Clear, straw-colored, yellow, or dark brown nipple discharge
    • Tenderness or soreness in the location of the breast lump
    • Just before your menstrual period, you may notice an increase in the size of your breast lumps and soreness in your breasts.
    • Following your period, you may notice a reduction in the size of your breast lump and the disappearance of some symptoms.

    A breast cyst does not enhance your chances of developing breast cancer. On the other hand, the cyst may make it more difficult to detect new breast lumps or any other alterations that require assessment. When you are on your period, your breasts might tend to feel lumpy, sore, or painful. Therefore, it's crucial to be aware of how they feel during your menstrual cycle so you will easily notice if anything changes.


    Causes of Breast Cyst

    A breast cyst is caused by a variety of factors that are currently unknown. Hormonal fluctuation, according to medical experts, might be the reason for their formation. On the other hand, breast cysts are uncommon in women following menopause; this is when estrogen levels begin to decline.

    Every breast is made up of glandular tissue lobes that are organized like petals on a flower. During pregnancy and breastfeeding, the lobes are split into small lobules that secrete milk. Fatty tissue and fibrous connective tissue make up the supporting tissue giving the breast its form. A breast cyst can thus arise as a result of fluid collection within the breast glands. In rare cases, a breast cyst in men is also possible. 


    Breast Cyst Diagnosis 

    Breast Cyst Diagnosis

    To diagnose a breast cyst, your medical provider can perform the following diagnostic tests and procedures; 

    Breast examination:

    The doctor diagnoses a breast cyst by talking about your symptoms and assessing the medical history. After that, they will evaluate the breast lump and look for any abnormalities. You will require another test since the doctor can't identify if a breast lump is a cyst just by looking at it. 

    These tests can include; 

    • Fine needle aspiration 

    Fine-needle aspiration is a procedure that involves inserting a tiny needle into a breast lump. The doctor will then try to remove fluid (aspirate) from the lump. Ultrasound is frequently used to facilitate proper needle insertion during fine-needle aspiration. If the lump in your breast disappears after breast cyst drainage, the doctor can diagnose a breast cyst right away.

    You won't need any more tests or treatment if the fluid isn't bloody, appears straw-colored, and the breast lump goes away. Also, if the fluid seems bloody or the lump persists, your doctor can send a small fluid sample to a laboratory for additional testing. If need be, they can refer you to a breast surgeon or a radiologist for follow-up. 

    If no fluid is removed, the doctor will most likely advise diagnostic mammography or ultrasound. The absence of fluid or a lump that does not resolve following aspiration indicates that the section of the breast lump is solid. To check for malignancy, a tissue sample may be taken. 

    • Imaging test

    The common imaging tests for breast cyst diagnosis include; 

    Ultrasound of the breasts: This test can tell your physician if a lump in the breast is filled with fluid or solid. A fluid-filled region usually identifies a breast cyst. A solid-like mass is most often a benign lump like a fibroadenoma. However, solid lumps can also signify breast cancer. 

    Mammography: This test can generally detect larger breast cysts and groups of minute cysts. Microcysts, on the other hand, can be hard or even impossible to detect under a mammogram. 

    A biopsy may be recommended to assess a solid lump further. In a situation where the doctor can feel the lump, he or she might opt for fine-needle aspiration to draw off the fluid and collapse the breast cyst instead of imaging testing.


    Breast Cyst Treatment 

    A simple breast cyst filled with fluid and not associated with any symptoms doesn't require treatment. This also applies to those that the doctor confirms after a fine-needle aspiration or under a breast ultrasound. 

    Most cysts usually vanish even without any form of treatment. Follow up with the physician for a breast cyst that persists, feels firmer, or you perceive changes of the skin on the area above the cyst.

    The common breast cyst treatment options include; 

    • Hormonal therapy use 

    A breast cyst might be less likely to recur if you use birth control pills or oral contraceptives to adjust your monthly periods. Birth control pills or any other hormonal therapy, including tamoxifen, are normally only suggested for women who have intense symptoms because of the potential adverse effects. Following menopause, discontinuation of hormone therapy might also help avoid breast cysts.

    • Fine needle aspiration 

    If every single one of the fluids from the breast cyst can be extracted during the treatment, fine-needle aspiration can help in diagnosing and treating a cyst. After that, your breast lump and symptoms can diminish.

    However, the fluid from some breast cysts might require draining more than once. Cysts that recur or form new cysts are generally common. When a breast cyst lasts for two to three menstrual cycles and develops large, then you should see a doctor for more evaluation. 

    • Surgery 

    Only in exceptional cases is surgery to take out a breast cyst necessary. In most cases, the surgical procedure might be considered if; 

    • A painful and uncomfortable breast cyst reappear month after month
    • When a breast cyst has fluid that is blood-tinged fluid 
    • You have other concerning signs 


    Breast Cyst Home Remedies 

    After breast cyst diagnosis, you can consider the following strategies to help alleviate the pain related to a breast cyst; 

    • Wear a supportive bra. Putting on a well-fitting bra to support your breasts can help alleviate some of the associated discomforts.
    • Apply a compress to the area. A warm compress or an ice pack can provide pain relief.
    • Refrain from taking caffeine. Generally, caffeine has not been linked to breast cysts, according to the studies. On the other hand, some women get symptom improvement after taking out coffee from their regular diets. Reduce or eliminate caffeine from your diet, including beverages and foods like chocolate, to determine if the symptoms will resolve.
    • If your doctor suggests it, try taking over-the-counter pain relievers. Acetaminophen (Tylenol and others) or any nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) or naproxen sodium (Aleve, others) may help relieve some forms of breast pain.


    When to See a Doctor 

    Breast Cyst Diagnosis

    Breast tissue can be lumpy or nodular in texture. However, if you notice a new breast lump that fails to resolve, grows larger, or continues after one or two menstrual cycles, you should contact your doctor immediately. In addition, if you detect any new changes in the skin on one or both breasts, visit your doctor.



    It's sometimes possible that a lump in one or both breasts is a cyst or a tumor. Various signs to look for include symptoms that fluctuate during your menstrual period, which may indicate one or the other. A breast cyst is typically a fluid-filled sac that occurs in the breast. Most of them are frequent, particularly among the female in their 40s and 50s. 

    The majority of breast cysts are benign and do not require treatment. It can be difficult to distinguish a cyst from a tumor simply by feeling it or considering other factors. If you notice a lump in your breast, make an appointment with the doctor as soon as possible to get an accurate diagnosis.