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Breast Cysts

Breast Cysts are fluid filled sacs that are common in women in the age group of 40 - 60 years. Cysts move easily to the touch and are hard and round. They are not attached to the breast tissue around them. Cysts are known to recur in some of the cases. Some women get cysts several times during their life, usually between the ages of 25 and 45. Breast Cysts become tender just before a menstrual period. Breast Cysts constitute nearly 15% of all discrete breast masses.


The breast ultrasound is the most sensitive and accurate tool for diagnosing Breast Cysts. Once cysts are detected in the breast, the doctor will confirm the nature of the lump with Triple Diagnosis method -- combination of Clinical Breast Examination, Mammogram and Fine Needle Aspiration Biopsy. A specialist draws out the fluid collected within the cyst with a fine needle and syringe. When traces of blood are noticed in the fluid that is drawn from the Breast Cyst, it must be sent to the laboratory for analysis. Normal cystic fluid is yellow, gray or green. If no fluid is obtained from the lump, it has to be investigated further. The possibility of intra-cystic carcinoma has to checked for. A biopsy might also be done on the breast mass. While benign cysts are round or oval, malignant ones are irregularly shaped and display micro-nodular groups of fluid collection.

Breast Ultrasound

Breast ultrasound involves transmitting high-frequency sound waves to the breast surface and recording the echoing waves. The images so formed indicate the structure of the breast tissue, be it dense tissue, breast cysts filled with fluid or tumors. Breast ultrasound is not used in regular screenings for breast cancer. It is typically undertaken when breast tissue is very dense or to determine the condition of a suspicious lump that has been noticed on a clinical breast examination or a mammogram. It is a tool to evaluate breast implant leak or rupture.


Breast ultrasound is done by bouncing high frequency sound waves off breast tissue. The resultant echoes are recorded in video or photographic images. Breast ultrasound is useful in gaining clearer insight into determining whether a suspicious lump is a fluid-filled cyst or a solid mass. In breasts with larger amount of glandular tissue and less fat, mammography may not be able to detect breast cancer early.


Breast ultrasound is not routinely considered for breast cancer screening. It is in fact used for investigation, in cases where there is a need for clearer imaging after a mammogram. It is also recommended in case a lump is felt on clinical breast exam. Breast ultrasound is non-invasive and does not make use of ionizing radiation. Soft tissues and dense tissues can be better examined with breast ultrasound rather than x-rays. Often benign cysts and fat lobules can be detected during a breast ultrasound.


Breast ultrasound is a good tool to investigate breast abnormalities in pregnant women since there is no radiation used. Breast ultrasound study hinges on the skill of the radiologist performing it. The procedure usually takes about 30 to 45 minutes. It does not require any compression of the breast.



Fibrocystic Breast condition

Fibrocystic breast condition is a normal variant condition that many women face with their breasts. This condition is characterized by the presence of benign breast lumps and typically affects women in the age group of 30 - 50 years.

Fibrocystic breast disease is often referred to as chronic cystic mastitis or mammary dysplasia. Women suffering from Fibrocystic breast disease notice dense and irregular consistency in the breast tissue that is accompanied by dull pain and tenderness. Breast engorgement and nipple discharge is sometimes noticed. But it is essential that the symptoms of Fibrocystic breasts are not ignored as it might be a precursor to breast cancer. This condition can affect one or both breasts. The discomfort and swelling may be heightened prior to menstruation and taper off after that. The real cause for Fibrocystic breasts is still not completely understood but it is associated with ovarian hormones. Fibrocystic breast disease is characterized by pockets of irregularly-shaped cysts that lend a lumpy surface to the breast. These cysts are smooth and movable and make the breasts very tender. Sometimes the pain is severe prior to menstruation. In most cases, the condition disappears on menopause.


Fibrocystic breast condition can signal increased risk of cancer when accompanied by proliferative changes such as papillomatosis (skin lesion) or atypical epithelial Hyperplasia and increased breast density.

A physician will examine the breast masses and conduct a mammography to examine the tissues. Ultrasounds are useful in distinguishing cystic lumps from solid lesions. Often an aspiration of the cystic fluid may be necessary to diagnose the condition and drain the fluid. Usually Fibrocystic breast condition improves over time. Relief is sought by avoiding caffeine and aerated fluids. Pain relievers alleviate the tenderness and discomfort. Doses of Vitamin E are sometimes prescribed for women suffering from fibrocystic breast condition. Cold compresses on the tender breasts may offer relief. Sometimes surgical removal of the fibrocysts is undertaken. Hormonal therapy such as birth control pills and other medications that regulate estrogen and progesterone levels are sometimes resorted to.


Self Care tips

  • Monthly BSE - Breast Self Examination
  • Limiting dietary intake of saturated fats and salts
  • Wearing a well-fitting bra
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Bibliography / Reference

Collection of Pages - Last revised Date: December 9, 2019