Duct ectasia of the breast is a non-cancerous breast condition that develops in the ducts of breast tissue just behind the nipple and occur commonly as part of the breast changes experienced due to aging, when the nipples shorten and widen. Duct ectasia is more common among women approaching menopause, as well as those who smoke. In addition, the condition can affect men as well, but this is very rare.
Common Symptoms of Duct Ectasia of the Breast
In most cases, duct ectasia doesn’t cause any symptoms, but a number of breast changes may be noticed which include:
- A lump behind the nipple, which means that the tissue there might be scarred or inflamed
- Pain in the breast
- Unusual nipple discharge
- Redness and tenderness around the nipple
- Inverted nipple
Diagnosis of Duct Ectasia of the Breast
After the above symptoms have presented themselves, you might be referred to a breast specialist who will be able to examine you further. Usually, the breast specialist will do a breast examination after which he/she may recommend a number of tests in order to arrive at a definite diagnosis. These tests include:
- Mammogram: This is a breast x-ray for possible identification of the breast tissues
- Ultrasound scan: An image of the breast is produced using high frequency sound waves
- Core Biopsy where a tissue sample is removed from breast for analysis
- Fine Needle Aspiration (FNA) whereby a fine needle and syringe are used to take tissue samples for examination.
Treatment of Duct Ectasia of the Breast
Usually, treatment of duct ectasia may not be required because it gets better by itself in most cases since it’s a normal part of the aging process. If there is any pain or discomfort present it can be relieved with pain medication, both oral and/or topical. A warm compress over the area may also come in handy. Refrain from squeezing the nipple is also advised against because this might cause or lead to further inflammation and nipple discharge.
If the discharge from the breast and inflammation persists without getting any better, a surgical procedure may be recommended to remove the affected breast ducts a procedure known as microdochectomy, or the removal of the major ducts, a procedure known as total duct excision.
The surgical procedures, which are normally day cases although one may stay overnight, are done under local anesthesia. After wards you might be left with a small scar near the areola where the incision was made. Immediately after the surgery, discomfort may be experienced after which pain medication might be prescribed.
Most duct excision surgeries are usually successful, but there are instances where the surgeon is unable to remove all the affected breast ducts. This means that the breast condition might return in future, hence the need for a further surgery to remove the ducts. If you experience any duct ectasia symptoms after the surgery, it is highly recommended that you book an appointment with your breast specialist for further treatment.
Does Duct Ectasia of the Breast Increase the Risk of Breast Cancer?
Being diagnosed with any form of breast lump or breast condition can make one feel uneasy, thinking they are at a greater risk of developing breast cancer. Fortunately, duct ectasia, which is non-cancerous, does not increase the risk of developing breast cancer nor does it ‘eventually turn to breast cancer’. To stay breast aware, you should continue with the routine breast screening as usual, and if you are concerned about any changes that your breasts might have, it is recommended you visit your doctor at the earliest.
At King’s College Hospital London Dubai, our Breast Care Clinic caters to every type of breast cancer and breast conditions. If you are facing any kind of abnormal changes to your breast, regardless how small, get in touch for a consultation with one of our breast doctors. For more information on breast cancer and breast care, book an appointment below.
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