Most breast lumps are caused by fibroids or cysts and are non-cancerous. According to the American Cancer Society, breast cysts are changes in the breast tissue that happen over time and typically appear during childbearing age between the ages of 30 and 50. However, breast cyst can appear at any age. Your doctor will not treat a breast cyst unless it is large, painful, or uncomfortable. 


What Is a Breast Cyst?

Almost 25% of breast masses are cysts. They can be described as moveable round or oval sacs filled with fluid in the breast. They may be tender to touch and may grow larger due to monthly hormone changes. A breast cyst may begin to form when fluid starts to build up within the breast glands and can be categorized as microcytes and macrocysts. Microcysts are too small to feel but can be detected using imaging tests like an ultrasound or mammography. Although experts don’t know what causes a cyst in breast tissue, evidence suggests that excess estrogen in your body may play a key role in stimulating breast tissue and cyst growth. 

There are breast cyst symptoms you should be aware of if you are unable to feel them. They don’t increase your risk of breast cancer but may appear as a painful lump in breast tissue that will make it more difficult to find new breast lumps. The cyst symptoms you should be aware of are: 

  • You detect a distinctly smooth and easily movable lump in the breast tissue. 
  • You experience clear, yellow, dark brown, or straw-colored nipple discharge. 
  • You feel a painful lump in breast tissue that you didn’t feel before. 
  • You notice an increase in the size of breast lump tissue and tenderness before your menstrual cycle. 
  • You notice a decrease in breast lump size accompanied by other symptoms after your menstrual cycle. 

How Is a Breast Cyst Diagnosed and Treated?

How Is a Breast Cyst Diagnosed and Treated


There are several types of breast lumps that will determine which course of action your doctor will take. Doctors will check to see if the breast cyst is simple, complex, or complicated. They will determine this by using digital imaging test: 

  • Simple – These appear as smooth and thin shaped sacs of fluid. The digital test sound waves sent by ultrasound pass straight through indicating no solid areas. 
  • Complex – These cysts have an irregular shape with thick walls and evidence of solid areas. Sometimes, a complex breast cyst is drained with a fine needle so the fluid can be tested. The presence of any blood or unusual cells may indicate the need for further testing to eliminate the possibility of breast cancer. 
  • Complicated – These cysts are somewhere in between with similarities to both simple and complex breast cysts. They usually contain some debris but don’t have thick walls or apparent solid areas. 

Again, simple cysts don’t need treatment. However, if it is very large, painful, or uncomfortable, it can be drained by a fine needle and evaluated if it returns. This evaluation is done with a mammogram and ultrasound. Women with simple cysts return back to their routine breast screenings. 

Follow up is generally the same with complex and complicated cysts when digital tests confirm the presence of a breast cyst. Your doctor may still recommend drainage using a fine needle and examine the fluid. Another approach your doctor may take is to make a follow-up appointment every 6 to 12 months for 1 to 2 years to monitor the cysts. At these follow-up appointments, you’ll typically undergo a clinical breast exam and ultrasound accompanied by a mammogram. However, the mammogram may be optional depending on the nature of the growth. 


Request an Appointment Today

Discovering a breast cyst can be scary and breast doctor is with you every step of the way. Our team of certified doctors and medical staff is well seasoned in the treatment of fibrocystic changes. We understand that a majority of women experience some form of this condition, with or without pain and tenderness. The glandular tissue of the breast is the most affected and symptoms are self-regulated and resolve on their own. Our commitment to excellence and personalized treatment will ensure you receive the treatment you deserve. 

Request your appointment with us today!