A breast cyst is a just ‘bag’ containing fluid. Breast cysts are most common in women aged 40-50 years and seem to be related to the sex hormone oestrogen. They are found in both breasts in one third of cases. Approximately 7% of all women develop a breast cyst at some time during their life.
Any woman who discovers a lump in her breast should visit her family doctor immediately. He/she will arrange a referral to a local breast specialist. The specialist will perform the usual tests to make a diagnosis – physical examination of the breast and an ultrasound scan and/or a mammogram. Investigations will often reveal the presence of multiple cysts in both breasts. If a solid (non-cystic) lump is detected, it should be appropriately investigated.

What Happens if I Have a Breast Cyst?

Small cysts do not usually require treatment. Cysts that are large or painful can easily be treated using a needle and syringe to remove the cyst fluid. Any lump that remains after this should be investigated with biopsy and mammography. The fluid obtained from the cyst is usually discarded, unless it is blood-stained or there is a residual lump. Blood-stained fluid can sometimes be associated with breast cancer, especially if there is a residual lump. In such cases it will be sent for further tests.

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