Breast Cysts

Breast cysts are dilated sacs of fluid that form within the breast tissue. While breast cysts are alarming and can cause tenderness and pain, they are predominantly benign. A health care professional can determine whether a lump in the breast is a cyst or a tumor by using an ultrasound scan.

Breast cysts are typically round or oval-shaped, have clearly defined edges, and often resemble the texture of a pea or grape. Women may develop one or many breast cysts that come and go with monthly menstrual cycles, as breast tissues change in response to the hormones produced by the ovaries. Women with denser breast tissue, however, often have fibrocystic breasts, a condition whereby fibrous tissue

Approximately 50 percent of women have breast cysts, 20 percent of whom can feel them.
Although breast cysts can develop in women of all ages, they are most common in women between the ages of 40 and 50. The condition usually resolves on its own after menopause, unless a woman is undergoing hormone replacement therapy, which can trigger  post-menopausal women taking hormone replacement therapy tend to have more breast cysts, due to the extra levels of hormones in their bodies.

Treatment options

Over-the-counter painkillers, warm or cold compresses, and evening primrose oil can help relieve the discomfort caused by breast cysts. Birth control pills are often prescribed to reduce changes in the breasts triggered by hormones. If a breast cyst is large and exceedingly painful, fine-needle aspiration may be performed to extract the fluid, and in extreme cases, surgical excision of the cyst is required to alleviate the symptoms.

Preventing cysts:

• Regulate hormone levels . Cysts are hormone-responsive, so taking birth control pills can help regulate hormone levels and minimize the formation of cysts.
• Limit caffeine. Caffeine can stimulate cyst growth, so monitor your intake of coffee, soft drinks and chocolate.
• Reduce salt intake. Excess sodium consumption causes the body to retain water, so if you already have cysts and have a high-salt diet, the cysts may become larger.

Consultation for cystic breasts
Determining whether a breast mass is benign or cancerous