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5 things to know about breast cysts

Finding a lump in your breast is scary for every woman, but it doesn’t always mean you have cancer. Many women have cysts in their breast. These cysts, or fluid-filled sacs, are normal and harmless. Though the exact cause of breast cysts is unknown, here are five things to know about cysts:

  • Breast cysts consist of a dilated milk duct and its surrounding tissue
  • Cysts come in all sizes and large cysts can be painful
  • If your breasts feel like “split peas” inside, you could have a lot of little cysts
  • While the exact cause is unknown, breast cysts seem to be related to fluctuating hormone levels
  • Cysts can occur at any age, but are most often found in women in their 30s and 40s and usually disappear after menopause

Regular self exams of your breast are a good idea. If you find a lump, take a deep breath and ask yourself:

  • Do my lumps get worse right before my period? Lumps that come and go with your menstrual cycle are cysts.
  • Does the lump hurt? Cysts, unlike cancer, can be painful when they become large.
  • Does your lump feel like a small water balloon? Cysts are commonly soft and easily drained in a doctor’s office.

“If you are unsure if a lump is a cyst or if it could be something else, schedule an appointment with your doctor,” recommends Dr. Laura Lawson, breast surgeon with Tennessee Breast Specialists. “Your physician can order a mammogram or ultrasound to check out any breast lumps.”

If you have a lump you would like to be checked by a physician, call 615.284.5887 to make an appointment with a Tennessee Breast Specialist physician.

Taking care of yourself is important. This includes a healthy diet and regular checkups. If you don’t have a primary care physician, call 1-800-DOCTORS or visit for a free physician referral.

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