Breast cysts are sac-like growths in the breast with thick or thin-flowing contents that are surrounded by a capsule. They can occur singly or in groups.
What are breast cysts?
A breast cyst is an encapsulated cavity in tissue that is often filled with fluid. First of all, the terminology does not say anything about whether the changes are malicious or benign. They can appear sporadically as solitary cysts or more frequently in the context of diseases such as mastopathy, which is a benign change in the mammary gland tissue.
Most of the time, the breast cysts do not cause any physical symptoms, so they are only noticed during a breast self-examination or a professional palpation examination by the gynecologist. In some cases, a secretion comes out of the nipple. This appearance should be examined by a doctor. It could be a sign of a breast cyst.
If a cyst is suspected in the breast, a more detailed diagnosis is made with the help of an ultrasound scan. Occasionally, additional tests, such as a mammogram, are necessary to better examine breast cysts.
Breast cysts can develop when the lobule exits in the breast become blocked. The individual glandular lobules are separated from each other by what is known as the mantle tissue and the ducts end in the main milk ducts of the female breast.
Furthermore, cysts can be congenital in the form of a solitary cyst. However, the main cause of breast cysts is mastopathy, which affects menopausal women. This disease, also known as breast dysplasia, causes changes in breast tissue.
This leads to tenderness and swelling of the breast and the formation of lumps. Mastopathy is triggered by fluctuations in the hormonal balance, which are characteristic of menopause. Therefore breast cysts mostly occur in women between the ages of 45 and 55.
Symptoms, ailments & signs
With breast cysts, patients suffer from small nodules or swellings that appear around the breasts. In many cases, breast cysts are harmless and can be removed with a simple procedure. If left untreated, however, the cysts can degenerate and lead to cancer and metastasis.
This may also limit the patient’s life expectancy. A secretion can also emerge from the nipple due to the breast cysts. In many patients, the disease also leads to significantly reduced aesthetics and thus to inferiority complexes or to a significantly reduced self-esteem. This can also lead to tension with one’s own partner.
As a result, those affected often suffer from depression or other psychological disorders. If the breast cysts are not treated, they can spread into the surrounding areas and cause cysts or nodules there as well. As a rule, further symptoms do not arise if the tumor does not develop into a malignant course.
The breast cysts are very rarely painful, but in some cases they can be itchy. Early therapy always has a positive effect on the further course of this complaint.
Diagnosis & course
Breast cysts are diagnosed using a variety of diagnostic methods. If the cyst is larger than an inch, it can be felt. An ultrasound scan reveals the wall thickness, size, and location of the cyst.
In order to rule out other diseases such as tumors, a mammography is usually carried out afterwards. If further analysis of the cyst is required, the doctor will puncture the tumor under ultrasound guidance. This enables a precise examination of the liquid obtained with the microscope. Other diagnostic methods are pneumocystography, which is accompanied by an X-ray, and a tissue analysis of the cyst.
This is the only way to rule out that the cyst is not a sign of breast cancer. The further course of breast cysts is usually unproblematic. Some breast cysts resolve on their own, while others require medical treatment.
A breast cyst can cause some complications. This can cause the cyst to burst, causing severe pain and life-threatening bleeding into the inside of the chest. If a breast cyst bursts, it can result in circulatory shock and death of the patient; Malignant cysts can lead to infections and other growths in the chest cavity.
Equally serious is a stem rotation, in which the cysts rotate around their own axis within the breast. This can lead to strangulation of the supplying blood vessels and thus to circulatory problems and severe internal bleeding up to and including circulatory failure. A previously benign breast cyst can also develop malignant degeneration.
Malignant cells develop inside the cyst, often spreading unnoticed into the chest and abdomen and causing serious complications. Bleeding cysts are also a risk factor. Continuous bleeding can lead to anemia; with malignant cysts, the cells can also spread to other parts of the body. Rapid medical treatment of the breast cyst, combined with constant monitoring of the patient, significantly reduces the risk of serious complications.
When should you go to the doctor?
To avoid further complications, breast cysts should definitely be examined by a doctor. They do not have to be removed in every case; these cysts often regress on their own. However, if they occur over a longer period of time, medical treatment is necessary. The patient should then see a doctor if a secretion emerges from the nipple. Nodules or other thickenings in the breast area can also indicate breast cysts and should be examined.
Circulatory problems or slight chest pain should also be examined by the doctor. As a rule, the examination can be carried out by a general practitioner or a gynecologist. Further treatment is not always necessary. The breast cysts can be removed. In the case of acute complaints, the hospital can also be visited. The diagnosis of breast cysts there is relatively easy with the help of a mammogram or an X-ray.
Treatment & Therapy
The treatment of breast cysts depends largely on the symptoms and the severity of the cysts. Simple single cysts often resolve spontaneously. If the cyst does not go away on its own and is painful, the doctor can puncture it. This means that its contents are sucked out with a thin needle.
After a certain time, the doctor will examine the breast that was once affected again, as new cysts may have formed. If there is a tendency to form cysts, the gynecologist can recommend taking the birth control pill. This suppresses the hormonal cycle, so that the tendency to form cysts is also reduced. The gynecologist has to assess with the patient individually whether this treatment method makes sense.
In doing so, he will take into account the personal needs of the woman concerned and the potential medical risks. Cysts that appear or persist after menopause as part of hormone therapy usually regress as soon as the hormones have been discontinued.
In the case of so-called adipose tissue necrosis, the treatment depends on the accompanying circumstances. If it scars, there are usually no problems. An oil cyst or milk cyst can also be punctured by the doctor. Breast cysts of the milk cyst type have the ability to regress spontaneously.
Outlook & forecast
If the breast cysts are identified and treated at an early stage, the affected person has a good prognosis. The cysts can be removed in one surgical procedure. If the operation goes smoothly, the patient will heal when the cysts are removed.
After a few weeks of recovery and recovery, the patient is usually discharged as cured. However, there is still a possibility of the breast cysts returning. Many patients can relapse at any time and new cysts develop in the chest. Regular check-ups are therefore important in order to be able to discover the formation of new cysts as quickly as possible.
The prognosis worsens as soon as the cysts are left untreated and burst as the disease progresses. In these cases, the patient is in a life-threatening condition that requires an emergency doctor to intervene as quickly as possible. If there is a shock or delayed medical care, the patient is threatened with death.
If left untreated, the breast cysts can develop into a malignant course. There is a risk of infections and other tissue changes in the chest area. The growths can spread unhindered. In these cases, the patient’s chances of recovery also deteriorate considerably. The longer the breast cysts are not treated, the greater the likelihood that complications will occur. In severe cases, the cysts spread to the patient’s abdomen.
There are no general measures to prevent breast cysts. If changes in the chest are felt, however, these should be medically clarified in order to detect serious illnesses in good time. There are no other preventive measures for breast cysts.
Whether and which follow-up care is useful and necessary for breast cysts depends on the type of cyst and the course of the disease. Benign cysts can be removed during surgery. Follow-up care focuses on caring for any wounds as directed by the doctor and looking out for any unusual symptoms. It is important to take care of your body immediately after the procedure.
Sports and strenuous physical work should also be avoided in the first few days after the operation. The check-ups usually take place every six months after an operation. Breast cysts that have resolved on their own do not require follow-up care unless the patient has a relevant medical history.
Further treatment may be necessary for malignant breast cysts. Follow-up care includes regular screenings to ensure that no more cysts have formed. In addition, any side effects must be diagnosed and treated.
The affected people should go to cancer screening first every three months, then every six months and finally every two years, depending on the severity of the symptoms and the age of the patient. Finally, after treatment, the cause must be determined and remedied.
You can do that yourself
In the case of breast cysts, the most important measure is to see a doctor. The doctor can clarify the cause of the cysts and suggest a suitable treatment straight away. In addition to conventional medical therapy, there are various self-help tips and home remedies.
If the cyst is a harmless growth, it is advisable to change your eating habits. By avoiding high-sugar or fatty foods, cow’s milk products and red meat, the risk of further cysts can be reduced. Almonds, olive oil, spinach and other foods with vitamins A and E are said to have a preventive effect.
Green tea extract can also loosen cysts and alleviate the pain and cramps that often accompany them. Regular breast massages stimulate the blood circulation and smaller cysts (up to a size of about two cm) should disappear after a while. Chinese herbal mixtures and acupuncture also help against small breast cysts.
Any self-measures should be clarified with the responsible doctor so that there are no complications. As a general rule, if the breast cyst persists or is suddenly associated with symptoms, a doctor must be consulted.