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Breast Cysts


Disease: Breast Cysts Breast Cysts
Category: Breast Diseases
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Disease Definition:

The fluid-filled sacs within the breast are called breast cysts. Described as a round or oval lump with distinct edges, a breast cyst feels like a soft grape or a water-filled balloon. In some cases, it could feel firm.

In women between the ages of 30 and 40, breast cysts are common, but unless they’re taking hormone therapy, the cysts disappear after menopause.

Unless a breast cyst is uncomfortable or large and painful, it doesn’t require treatment. Draining the fluid from a breast cyst can ease the symptoms in case it is large and painful.

Work Group:

Prepared by: Scientific Section

Symptoms, Causes


Some of the signs and symptoms of breast cysts are:

  • A round or oval breast lump that is smooth and easily movable with distinct edges
  • Increased lump size and tenderness just before period
  • Breast pain or tenderness in the area of the lump
  • Decreased lump size and resolution of other signs and symptoms after the period.

If a woman has one or many simple breast cysts, it doesn’t mean that her risk of breast cancer is increased.


There are 15 to 20 lobes of glandular tissue in each of a woman's breasts, which are arranged like the petals of a daisy. These lobes are further divided into smaller lobules that produce milk during pregnancy and breast-feeding. The milk is conducted by small ducts to a reservoir just beneath the nipple. A deeper layer of connective tissue called stroma supports this network.

When an overgrowth of glands and connective tissue (fibrocystic changes) block milk ducts and causes them to dilate and fill with fluid, breast cysts develop.

Although microcysts are too small to feel, but they could be seen during imaging tests, including ultrasound and mammography.
Macrocysts can grow to about 2.5 to 5 centimeters (1 to 2 inches) in diameter. They are large enough to be felt and can put pressure on nearby breast tissue causing discomfort or breast pain.

Although some evidence suggests that excess estrogen in the body could play a role in breast cyst development, but the exact cause is still not known.





In the case of simple breast cysts, no treatment is necessary except for closely monitoring it to see if it is going to resolve on its own.

Fine-needle aspiration:

This procedure is used to diagnose a breast cyst, but it could also be used as a treatment if all the fluid from the cyst is removed at the time of diagnosis.
The doctor’s first step will be feeling the patient's breast to locate the cyst and hold it steady. The next step is inserting a thin needle into the breast lump and withdrawing (aspirating) the cyst fluid. To guide accurate placement of the needle, this procedure is usually done by using ultrasound.
In case the fluid is non-bloody and the breast lump has disappeared, the woman will need no further treatment other than visiting the clinic in four to six weeks to make sure that the cyst hasn’t returned.
However, if the fluid is bloody or the breast lump hasn’t disappeared, a sample of the fluid will be tested, and the patient will be referred to a radiologist, a specialist in imaging results, or a breast surgeon for a follow-up.
In some cases, she may need to have fluid drained more than once, because recurrence or new cysts are common.


A breast cyst could be surgically removed only in some unusual circumstances. Surgery may be considered if a breast cyst contains blood-tinged fluid and displays other worrisome signs, or if an uncomfortable breast cyst recurs month after month.

Hormone use:

To help reduce the recurrence of breast cysts, a woman could use oral contraceptives to regulate her menstrual cycles. The formation of breast cysts could also be reduced by discontinuing hormone replacement therapy during the postmenopausal years.


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