Women's Health

Breast Cysts

What are breast cysts?

A cyst is a fluid-filled sac that develops in the breast tissue. They are the most common reason for breast lumps in teenagers. Cysts are rarely malignant and may be caused by a blockage of breast glands.

What are the symptoms?

Cysts often enlarge and become tender and painful just before the menstrual period and may seem to appear overnight. They can feel either soft or hard. When close to the surface of the breast, cysts can feel like a large blister, smooth on the outside, but fluid-filled on the inside. However, when a cyst is deeply imbedded in breast tissue, it will feel like a hard lump because it is covered with tissue.

What treatment option is available?

Occasionally, when cysts look unusual on ultrasound or when they are painful, a doctor will recommend cyst aspiration. The breast is numbed with local anesthetic, and a small needle (about the same size as that used to draw blood) is used to drain the fluid. The procedure takes five to ten minutes and is usually painless. The patient goes home immediately following the procedure and may resume all of her normal activities.