By Dr. Kathleen Ruddy

Because breast cancer is a feared and potentially deadly disease, the spotting of its likely signs on an individual’s breasts can cause great panic. Worse still, an individual could go through unnecessary but traumatic and stressful diagnostic procedures attempting to find a non-existent breast tumor. Yet, symptoms such as an oil cyst in breasts do not necessarily constitute cancer. Thus, it is imperative that an individual gain accurate knowledge of both the positive and negative implications of such a lump in her breasts and consult a doctor before pursuing any remedies.

The Good News

Firstly, women should be aware of the fact that cysts in breasts can be diagnosed and no assumptions need to be made beforehand. If a mammogram cannot detect these, physical and ultrasound examinations can help distinguish between harmless cysts and breast cancer. However, the approach to take here upon suspicion of a cyst in an individual’s breast is not a simple decision to make. Only a qualified doctor can confirm breast cancer or another diagnosis.

Secondly, patients find methods applicable in diagnosis of simple cystic breast masses mostly easy to cope with. For instance, diagnosis through ultrasound technology is non-invasive and harmless. Also, a thorough mammographic assessment and an exhaustive consideration of a patient’s history can help identify the nature of the cystic breast mass in question and inform further evaluation.

A patient will be relieved to learn that an assessment already done may avert the need to employ invasive techniques such as a biopsy. Thirdly, if indeed a patient is found to have an oil cyst in her breast and not cancer, she can breathe a sigh of relief as mostly these come and go without any intervention. Nutrition and dietary measures can also help manage a cyst in breasts. Doctors can also aspirate the fluid in a cyst using a needle and syringe to shrink it. A doctor may recommend surgical procedures to address large or painful cystic masses, however.

The Bad News

The development of an oil cyst in a breast can disturb a patient psychologically or emotionally. For starters, many patients mistake it for breast cancer right from the outset and begin to panic. Even when a doctor says all is well, a patient with a cystic breast mass may remain apprehensive as preliminary evaluations do not settle the matter. Sometimes, a follow-up diagnosis and management practices may ensue before a complex cyst is determined to be malignant or otherwise. No patient welcomes a diagnosis that reveals the presence of a complex cystic breast mass with a solid component in it. This is because some complex cystic breast masses have been shown to have malignant tendencies.

A thorough evaluation could in the end reveal that the painful lump in an individual’s breast was cancerous after all. An example of a malignant cystic breast mass is infiltrating ductal carcinoma, which ultrasonography can help diagnose. Sometimes, the health of a patient with a complex cystic breast mass can be caught up in a doctor’s dilemma as a decision is being made on what approach to take for a diagnosis using methods such as percutaneous biopsy. For an accurate diagnosis, the approach has to be as invasive as possible to obtain enough material for testing. Yet, biopsy should be less invasive in line with best practices, if possible. Still, it can’t help a patient if a biopsy procedure interferes with a cystic breast mass component to the extent of making it hard to access and test.


Breast lumps whose appearance is tied to the menstrual cycle may just be cystic and not cancerous.

Patients with cystic masses in breasts will be pleased to know that such cases do not always lead to breast cancer. Thorough assessment in a medical lab is necessary to determine the exact nature of any identified cysts in breasts.

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