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The Difference Between a Breast Cyst and Breast Cancer

Finding a lump on your breast can be alarming, but don’t panic: most lumps are benign. Many lumps are round, fluid-filled sacs called cysts. You may perform a breast self-examination at home. Cysts are non-cancerous and usually go away on their own without treatment. As a general rule, any detected lump should be checked out by a breast surgeon to determine whether it is harmless or if it is indicative of cancer. Nonetheless, here are some main differences between the two.

What is a Breast Cyst?

A breast cyst is a round and smooth fluid-filled sac that forms in the breast tissue. You can have one or more cysts in one or both breasts. Cysts can be soft or firm, and range from mere millimeters to inches in diameter. They can affect women of any age, but are more common in those who are perimenopausal.

Breast cysts are non-cancerous and mostly do not require treatment unless they are causing pain. In such cases, a Singapore breast surgeon may choose to drain the fluid from the cyst or remove the cyst entirely. The exact cause of breast cysts is still unknown, but hormonal changes brought on by menstruation are said to contribute to their development.

What is Breast Cancer?

Breast cancer, on the other hand, is characterized by a solid lump that has formed from the rapid reproduction of abnormal cells in the breasts’ lobules or milk ducts. Left untreated, breast cancer can invade surrounding breast tissues and even other organs. Like cysts, breast cancer tumors are often detected through breast screening methods, which further promotes the importance of a breast self-exam at home or a mammography at a breast clinic.

Make sure to see your breast cancer surgeon if you find a breast lump. He or she may request additional tests like an ultrasound, mammography and biopsy to rule out other conditions and make a sound diagnosis. Unlike cysts, breast cancer is typically accompanied by other symptoms such as unusual nipple discharge, dimpled or irritated skin, and changes in the size and shape of the breast and nipple. Learn more about the early warning signs of breast cancer.

Is There a Link between Breast Cysts and Cancer?

Breast cysts are mostly benign and do not increase one’s risk of getting breast cancer. However, complex cysts, which have solid components, carry a small risk of malignancy. In these cases, a breast surgeon in Singapore will recommend a biopsy to determine whether precancerous cells are present in the sample. Read more about various diagnostic tests that can be performed by a breast doctor.

Those who have a history of benign breast disease or a family history of breast cancer are also recommended to undergo early and frequent breast cancer screening as they are at a higher risk of developing the condition.

If cancer is found, the breast cancer surgeon can then recommend treatments for breast cancer by stage, including surgery, chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

Led by Dr Chong Chee Keong, Maven Surgery offers established and personalized treatment options for patients with breast cancer and other breast conditions. Send us an enquiry or contact us at 63555285 today.

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