A friend, after many days of anxiety, confided that she has a small lump in her breast. She was scared that it could be a cancer. The lump was, however, painless. On consulting the doctor, he advised to do aspiration of the lump, in medical terms called breast cyst. He reassured that the lump was a simply a sac filled with fluid, and not a cancerous growth.
Breast cyst is a non-cancerous (benign) fluid filled sac in the breast. Breast cysts are lumps found with distinct edges and shape, circular or elliptical. At times, a breast cyst can also be firm. Breast cysts generally occur in females of the age between 30’s and 40’s and disappear after menopause (age at which ovaries stop to function) unless they are on hormone therapy. Sometimes, the cysts may cause mild pain. In some women, the cyst comes and goes with the menstrual cycle, but if it persists, then it may need evaluation.
It is difficult to differentiate between a solid mass and a fluid filled cyst through physical examination and palpation. Breast cyst can be diagnosed only through mammogram and ultrasound.
Breast cyst aspiration is a procedure in which the doctor removes the fluid from the breast cyst by using a small needle. The aim of breast cyst aspiration is to confirm the diagnosis and drain the fluid from the cyst.
The lump in your breast may cause pain and you may worry whether it is because of breast cancer. Breast aspiration helps your doctor to find out whether the lump in your breast is a tumor or cyst. Breast aspiration provides the results immediately so that you do not have to wait for specific tests to be carried out.
Before the cyst aspiration, your doctor may conduct ultrasound procedure to have a better picture of your lump. Then your doctor may cause numbness of the skin of your breast by giving local anesthesia (medicine causing local numbness) and insert a needle into your lump and drain out the fluid. If the fluid does not contain any blood and the lump disappears, then no further tests are necessary. If there is blood in the fluid and if the lump continues, then your doctor may recommend you to a breast surgeon and for further tests. If there is no fluid drawn during aspiration, then your doctor may recommend you to undergo further tests to evaluate your lump.
The doctor can diagnose the lump in your breast immediately on the same day after the cyst aspiration. If the lump you have is a cyst, you can know right away and no further tests are required.
Before you undergo breast cyst aspiration, your doctor informs you the procedure and keeps you informed about the possible problems. You may feel slight pain when the needle goes inside your cyst and there can be a small bruise on the breast. At times the place where the needle is inserted may become infected.
Subsequent to breast cyst aspiration, you need to see your doctor again after a period of 4 to 6 weeks. The doctor examines whether the cyst which was drained has developed into a lump again. A recurring cyst is a problem. If you feel that the cyst that was aspirated has filled up again with fluid, call your doctor.