About Simple Breast Cysts

A cyst is a little pocket of fluid in the breast. It occurs when a milk duct becomes blocked, preventing the normal breast fluid to flow through the ducts.

The trapped fluid forms a pocket that starts off small, but can grow larger as more fluid builds up. It’s possible to have multiple cysts. Cysts may be caused by fibrocystic breasts.

Breast cysts usually occur in women in their 30s and 40s. Breast cysts will usually disappear after menopause unless a woman is taking hormone replacement therapy.

Almost all simple cysts are benign (non-cancerous). They do not increase your risk of developing breast cancer.

Risk Factors and Symptoms

Risk Factors for Simple Breast Cysts

Being between the ages of 35 and 50 and perimenopausal is the only known risk factor for developing simple breast cysts.

Symptoms of Simple Breast Cysts

You may or may not be able to feel cysts in your breasts, depending on their size.

Following are some symptoms you may experience with cysts:

  • Round or oval lump that feels like a soft grape or water balloon
  • Fluctuation in the size of lumps that corresponds with menstruation
  • Increase in lump size and pain during pregnancy
  • Breast discomfort or pain

Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnosing Simple Breast Cysts

A cyst will appear on a mammogram as a round or oval gray structure. Breast ultrasound can provide an accurate diagnosis of cysts.

Treating this Condition

Cysts do not become cancerous and do not need to be surgically removed. If the cyst is painful, it can be drained (aspirated) using ultrasound to guide a tiny needle. In a small percentage of women, cysts will re-form after being drained.

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