Mammary duct ectasia is a condition of the breasts which usually is seen as a result of aging changes in the body. This condition usually happens around the menopausal period in a woman. This happens as the milk ducts below the nipples get widened, clogged or obstructed due to the secretion of a sticky and thick fluid. Mammary duct ectasia usually doesn’t cause any symptoms, except that it is very irritating and troublesome.

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Is Mammary Duct Ectasia Cancerous?

Mammary duct ectasia is not cancerous and also, it does not make you more prone to get affected by breast cancer. But, if left untreated, mammary duct ectasia may progress to an infection and this may turn into a cause for worry.

Mammary duct ectasia usually does not cause any serious symptoms. However, it can be troublesome and causes some embarrassment in public as it may wet and stain your clothes so much that it is noticeable. Some signs and symptoms of mammary duct ectasia include

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  • The area around the nipple and areola may get red, tender and swollen
  • The nipple may get inverted, meaning it may turn inward
  • There might be an unusual discharge from the nipple
  • Sometimes uncommonly there might be a pain in the area of nipples and areola
  • There might be a lump behind the nipple if the ectasia has progressed to an infection

How Is A Mammary Duct Ectasia Diagnosed?

  • A physician is usually able to diagnose a mammary duct ectasia by performing a physical examination of the breasts
  • A mammogram may be advised to get a clearer picture of what is happening
  • A USG may also be advised
  • Both these imaging procedures may help give your physician a better view of the inside of the breasts
  • These procedures will also help the physician rule out any other underlying problems
  • If there is a discharge present, the discharge sample might be sent for testing to see what type of infection is present
  • A biopsy may also be performed if there is a presence of a lump behind the affected nipple

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Causes Of Mammary Duct Ectasia

  • Aging is the primary reason for mammary duct ectasia
  • It is usually seen in those women who are nearer to their menopause or are already going through a menopause
  • In some women however, it may be seen even after the menopause
  • Due to the process of aging, the milk ducts under the nipples and areola may get widened and shortened
  • Due to this the fluid gets collected in the ducts and makes it blocked
  • This may irritate the walls of the ducts and they get inflamed
  • Mammary duct ectasia can also be caused due to a nipple that is inverted
  • Smoking is also seen to make the ducts shorter and wider, which makes smoking a potential cause of mammary duct ectasia

Treatment Of Mammary Duct Ectasia

  • Mammary duct ectasia may or may not need any kind of treatment
  • It usually goes away on its own
  • If the symptoms are making you more worried or irritable, or if they are causing you an embarrassment, there might be a need to seek out some treatment

The treatment methods may include administering antibiotics for treating any bacterial infection if present, medications for pain and inflammation to give you some relief from the pain if any, and surgery as an option if anti-biotics and anti-inflammatory medications are not able to cure you of your condition

Mammary duct ectasia is a condition that is often seen in women who are nearing their menopause or are going through one. It is a blockage of lactiferous ducts that are present below the nipple and areola. It is usually a harmless condition that gets better on its own and may not require any treatment. Mammary duct ectasia is not a cancerous condition and it also does not lead you to cancer.

Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: November 26, 2018

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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