Aspiration of a Breast Cyst or Breast Cyst Management

Formation of a breast cyst

Breast cysts or a Mammary cysts are fluid filled lobules found in the breasts of women between 30 – 50 years of age. The formations of these cysts can be precipitated through a blockage of the ductal drainage by a keratin plug. The result would be the distention of the mammary ducts forming a sac filled with fluid. Most of the time, due to their small size, these sacs are hardly palpable. Occasionally, these sacs can grow up to the size of a ping pong ball.

Prevalence and outcomes of a breast cyst

The breast cysts can be found in almost 20% of all women in the said age group. The condition, if diagnosed as breast cyst, is totally benign. According to the statistics, only 1 out of 1000 cases diagnosed as a breast cyst turns out as a tumor. Even then, the tumors are benign rather than malignant.


The usual scenario will be a woman undergoing a mammogram having a incidental diagnosis of a breast cyst. Unfortunately these mammograms are unable to identify a cyst from a solid tumor. Therefore, once a tentative diagnosis is made, the patient needs to undergo a breast ultrasound examination to clearly identify the nature of the filling. The ultrasound can determine whether it is fluid filled, solid or mixed.

Treatment of a breast cyst

Treatment on a breast cyst is decided on its effect over the patient. Most often the treatment process will start once the cyst can be felt by the patient. Cysts which are very small to feel and which are multiple, usually can be left alone and reviewed at a later time. In order to do this, the clinician should make an exact diagnosis of the lump as a breast cyst.

If the diagnosis is in doubt and the cyst is big enough to be felt by the patient, a decision can be made to aspirate the fluid filled sac.

Aspiration of the cyst is a simple procedure that can be done in the outpatient department. Once the position of the cyst is confirmed, the doctor will make use of a thin needle which will be passed into the fluid filled sac through the skin. This can be done under local anesthesia or even without any anesthetic.

Once the needle is in place, the clinician can suck the fluid through the suction device attached to the needle. Usually the fluid will be yellow or straw colored in appearance. If the aspiration process fails repeatedly, the most likely thing would be the absence of fluid in the cyst, which implies it can possibly be a solid mass.

In any instance, the fluid or any other tissue sections that was aspirated will be sent to the lab in order to identify the constituent. Most often the findings would be of normal breast tissues.

Following the aspiration, the patient will be sent home and the tight plaster at the site of the needle entry can be removed in few hours time.