Women going through menopause often suffer from a range of symptoms that can be physiological and psychological in nature, with one of these being breast cysts. They are most common just before menopause, and women between the ages of 45 and 55 are most at risk. They are a common occurrence in women, particularly those of menopausal age. Although mainly harmless, many women are understandably distressed if they find a cyst and often associate it with breast cancer, leading to undue distress and worry. Breast cysts are not cancerous, and although they should be checked by a doctor, they are generally not regarded as a health risk.
Cysts are sacs filled with fluid that can reside in the breast, and most of the time are harmless. The number of cysts in the breast differs from woman to woman; it can be one or multiple, and they can also vary in size. There are often multiple cysts within these tubes; however, most of them do not swell to a size big enough to be detectable. When they do swell, it is often a quick process and they vary in size.
They are commonly described as round lumps with defined edges, with a texture similar to a grape or water balloon. The level of discomfort a woman feels in relation to breast cysts is generally dependent on the size, but the cysts themselves can be hard or soft to the touch, sometimes being extremely tender.
There are a few different symptoms of breast cysts, and a sufferer might experience anything from one to all of these. One or both breasts might be affected, or one more than the other. A few of the most common symptoms are:
- A smooth, round breast lump with distinct edges that can easily be moved around
- A feeling of breast pain or tenderness in the area of the cyst
- An increase in breast size
- Size of the cysts or breasts altering as a result of the menstrual cycle
Should I Be Worried?
Although breast cysts are not harmful, and a lump in the breast is more likely to indicate a cyst than anything more serious, it is nevertheless advised to go to a doctor as soon as a lump is found in order to rule out any underlying conditions. Once a cyst has been confirmed, then usually no further action is required, but it is important to keep a careful check on your breasts in order to see if any more lumps appear other than the ones that have already been diagnosed.
Women should bear in mind that cysts are not cancerous and cannot become cancerous either. However, the cause of breast cysts remains unidentified. If you are going through menopause, then do not be immediately alarmed if you experience lumps in your breast. Cysts are not classed as a serious medical condition and do not pose a major health risk. Read more about breast pain during menopause.
- National Health Service UK. (2014). Breast pain, cyclical. Retrieved September 25, 2014, from http://www.nhsdirect.wales.nhs.uk/Encyclopaedia/b/article/breastpain,cyclical/
- National Institutes of Health. (2013). Breast lump. Retrieved September 25, 2014, from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003155.htm