Nipple Discharge

Nipple discharge is the leaking of fluid out of a breast nipple. Nipple discharge is common in pregnant women and in women who are nursing or in the process of stopping nursing. The discharge may look milky, clear, or have a yellow or brownish tint. Some newborn babies have nipple discharge for up to two weeks after birth as a result of the hormones from their mothers that are still present in their system.

Causes of Nipple Discharge

Nipple discharge may be caused by various factors which may include:

  • Pregnancy
  • Breast Feeding
  • Infection
  • Clogged breast ducts
  • Hormone Imbalance
  • Injury
  • Certain medications
  • Fibroadenomas - noncancerous tumors
  • Breast cancer

Nipple Discharge Concerns

Nipple discharge is a common condition and is normally not serious, however patients should consult with their doctors if they are experiencing nipple discharge. Nipple discharge may be a sign of cancer or a more serious condition if:

  • Discharge is only occurring in one nipple
  • Discharge contains blood
  • There is also a lump in the breast

If additional complications are suspected, a doctor will then conduct a physical examination of the breast and may perform additional diagnostic tests that may include:

  • Mammogram
  • Ultrasound
  • Biopsy

Nipple Discharge Treatment

Nipple discharge is rarely cancerous, but may be a sign of an underlying problem that requires treatment. Doctors will treat nipple discharge based on the cause that is determined. In most cases, no treatment is necessary, however, some treatments may include:

  • Changing medications
  • Removing breast lumps
  • Draining cysts

If cancer is detected, a doctor will create a customized cancer treatment plan based on individual patient's needs. Advances in breast cancer treatment have made for many positive outcomes.

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