Is Mammary Duct Ectasia Dangerous?

Mammary duct ectasia is a benign condition in which milk ducts under the nipples become filled with the fluid and thickened. Sometimes, the ducts get blocked and clogged with a sticky fluid of thick consistency. It usually does not represent any symptom. It may cause pain and discomfort in the breast with discharge from the nipple. It commonly appears in women before the menopause at the age of 45-55 years. It resolves by itself in many cases.

Is Mammary Duct Ectasia Dangerous?

Is Mammary Duct Ectasia Dangerous?

Mammary duct ectasia condition is not dangerous or harmful. Mammary duct ectasia is a noncancerous benign condition of the breast which is characterized by the blocking of the ducts by a thick sticky fluid beneath the nipple. The ducts become dilated (widen), shorter and engorged with a fluid. The fluid, filled in the ducts, is thick and sticky which often discharge through nipples. The excess filling of the fluid may lead to clogging of the milk ducts and result in irritation and inflammation of the duct. This condition does not represent symptoms in many cases. It resolves by itself in most of the times.

Mammary duct ectasia can happen at any age whose chances increases with the age. It is more common in women in old age before menopause at the age of 40-45 years. It can occur even after the menopause.

Causes Of Mammary Duct Ectasia

The exact cause of mammary duct ectasia is not clear. It is associated with the following factors-

Aging- there are many changes in the tissue of the breast with increasing age. It turns to more fatty from glandular tissue. This process is called involution. These changes may interrupt and block the milk duct leading to its inflammation. It approaches near a menopausal age and even after the menopause in some of the cases.

Smoking- smoking is one of the risk factors that can trigger the inflammation of the mammary duct.

Inversion Of The Nipple- inversion of the nipple can clog the milk ducts resulting infection and inflammation of the duct. However, if the nipple becomes inverted, it is possibly a sign of a serious medical condition.

Symptoms Of Mammary Duct Ectasia

Mammary duct ectasia does not show any sign or symptom. It represents any symptom; you may experience the following-

Discharge- discharges from one or both the nipples may appear due to continuous clogging of the duct. The discharge is a dirty and sticky fluid that can be white, green or black in color.

Pain- it may cause pain and tenderness in the nipple and around the nipple

Nipple Symptoms – redness near the nipple and neighboring area may be present. The nipple may turn inward.

Lumps- a hard breast lump or thickening may appear near the blocked duct.

Complications Of Mammary Duct Ectasia

There are few complications of mammary duct ectasia which is however manageable and are not severe.

These involve-

  • This condition may lead to swelling, redness, and tenderness around the nipples which cause discomfort in the breast.
  • It leads to the discharges from the nipple. This fluid discharge can cause wetting and staining of the clothes which can be embarrassing and frustrating.
  • It can cause infection in the milk duct that may trigger pain, malaise, and fever. If the infection is left untreated, it may cause an abscess formation in the breast tissue. It often needs to be drained out.
  • Mammary duct ectasia results in the development of hard lump in the breast. These signs need a regular checkup. However, mammary duct ectasia does not increase the risk of developing a cancerous condition in the breast.


Mammary duct ectasia is a condition of the breast where a fluid gets engorged in the milk ducts beneath the nipple. It usually does not represent any symptom and resolves by itself without treatment. This condition is not a cancerous condition and does not lead to cancer. Therefore, this condition is not a dangerous condition.

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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:December 4, 2020

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