What Do Breast Cysts Feel Like?

Breast cysts are a common condition among women worldwide. These cysts even though benign can be quite annoying. It has been estimated that 1 out of 3 women in their pre-menopausal period deal with breast cysts. A cyst is a fluid filled sac and the real cause why these cysts are formed is not known. Breast cysts are more common among younger women though. Because of this fact, certain researchers believe that hormones and especially hormone imbalance play an important role in the development of these breast cysts. Estrogen is the one being accused of the development of breast cysts among women, especially younger women.

What Does a Breast Cyst Feel Like?

Breast cysts, in general, are round or oval in shape, even though sometimes they might have an irregular shape as well. To touch these breast cysts are squishy and movable. Even when breast cysts might feel firm or hard and fixed in place, don’t panic immediately and don’t think about the worst. In certain cases, when breast cysts form deeper within the breast tissue, they can push the breast tissue surrounding them out of the normal shape. In such cases, the normal breast tissue might feel like a firm and fixed lump.

Breast cysts are also painful in most of the cases, while cancerous breast lumps are not painful, only in very rare cases. If the breast cysts become painful especially just before getting your menstrual periods, then this is another indicator that shows that the lumps on the breasts are breast cysts and not cancerous formations.

What does a breast cyst feel like? Remember that breast cysts can vary in size from tiny lumps and up to a golf ball. They are often painful and tend to disappear on their own. However, in certain cases, they need to be drained. A good news is that breast cysts won’t turn into cancerous formations. Commonly they appear about two weeks before getting your menstrual periods and disappear within a couple of days after the menstrual periods.

If the breast lump does not disappear within a couple of weeks, then you should consult your healthcare provider and get checked.

Diagnosing and Treating the Breast Cyst

The recommended examination for every breast lump is the mammogram. However, in certain cases when the doctor during a physical examination of your breasts feels that the lumps are possibly a breast cyst and not something more serious, he/she might perform a fine needle aspiration and not order a mammogram.

Fine needle aspiration is a medical procedure during which the fluid is drained out of the breast lump. Even though it sounds like a very painful medical procedure, surprisingly for most women it is not. Local anesthesia is used, followed by a needle insertion into the lump in order to drain the fluid. If the fluid is withdrawn, after which the breast lump disappears, then your doctor will know that it was a breast cyst and often no further test and examinations are required.

However, if the fluid is bloody or if the lump does not disappear completely, then the fluid sample collected will be sent to the laboratory for further testing in order to check for the presence of any cancer cells.

Not every health care provider prefers fine needle aspiration. Some prefer doing an ultrasound examination of the breasts instead, before collecting any fluid from the breast lump. Ultrasound examination of the breasts is a great way to identify breast cysts. This is a painless and quick examination which reveals if the breast lumps are fluid filled sac or if they are a firm and solid mass. What does a breast cyst feel like? When the breast lump is filled with fluid, this means that it is a cyst. If your doctor will drain this cyst or not depends on whether the cyst is painful or not, is big or small in size, etc. On the other hand, if the breast lump is a solid mass, then further tests and examinations are necessary, including a biopsy.

 Are Cysts Always Drained?

Usually, breast cysts are not drained as they tend to disappear on their own within a couple of weeks. However, in cases when these breast cysts are large in size, painful and don’t disappear within a couple of weeks, they can be drained. Also, in cases when breast cysts tend to reoccur they can be surgically removed, even though breast cysts are a one-time occurrence for most women.

Lifestyle and Home Remedies

Here are some tips and tricks that can help you minimize the discomfort associated with breast cysts:

  • Wear comfortable and supportive bras that fit well. By supporting your breasts the pain and discomfort might be relieved.
  • Warm or cold compresses applied on the breasts can help relieve the pain and discomfort from a breast cyst as well.
  • Avoid caffeine for a couple of days. Even though this might sound odd as there is no link between caffeine consumption and breast cysts, some women report a relief of their signs and symptoms when caffeine is totally avoided from their diet for a couple of days. Avoid chocolate as well.
  • Reduce salt consumption as it will reduce the amount of fluid your body retains relieving this way the signs and symptoms associated with breast cysts as well.
  • Use over the counter pain medications such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, naproxen, etc., to ease the breast pain.

What Are the Real Signs of Breast Cancer?

What does a breast cyst feel like? You already know the answer. When do you really have a breast cancer? A common sign of a breast cancer is the presence of a breast lump. Breast cancer is a painless, tender and firm mass with irregular edges. However, in certain cases, it can be a soft, tender and rounded mass as well, which can associate to a breast cyst and get misdiagnosed.

Other signs and symptoms of breast cancer include:

  • Breast pain
  • Nipple pain
  • Skin irritation
  • Skin dimpling
  • Swelling of just one part of the breast or of the entire breast
  • Nipple retraction
  • Nipple discharge
  • Redness and thickening of the breast nipple or breast skin, etc.

There is no need to panic immediately if you notice any of the above-mentioned signs and symptoms as they can be caused by other causes as well and not just breast cancer. However, if you notice any of the above-mentioned signs and symptoms, get medical help immediately in order to get the right diagnosis and treatment on time.

It is very important to know your breasts and to self-examine them from time to time. Look for any changes in your breasts which can be a sign of breast cancer.

Self-Examination Tips

  • Examining your breast in the shower is ideal, but you can examine them everywhere.
  • With your fingers move from the inside of your breasts toward the nipples in circular motions. Notice any change, presence of a lump, pain or thickening of the breast skin.
  • Examine the surrounding area of the breasts, including the armpit and the collarbone area.
  • Squeeze the nipple and check for any discharge, lump or pain while squeezing it.
  • Apply light pressure closer to the surface of the breast and nipple or medium and firm pressure in order to check deeper breast tissues.
  • Remember to check both of your breasts carefully.
  • Check your breasts while lying down as well.