Risk Factors For Mammary Duct Ectasia

Mammary duct ectasia is a condition which is marked by the clogging of the milk ducts around the nipple due to a thick sticky fluid. The ducts become widened and dilated with continuous engorging of the fluid. It does not have any symptoms and resolves by itself without treatment. If the symptoms appear, they are pain and tenderness in the nipple and surrounding area with a thick sticky discharge through the nipple. It can develop in women commonly in the premenopausal period. However, it can occur after the menopause and in men and children too.

Risk Factors For Mammary Duct Ectasia

Risk Factors For Mammary Duct Ectasia

The risk factors for mammary duct ectasia are-

Aging– with an increase in the age of the women, the possibility of mammary duct ectasia increases. With increasing age, some changes occur in the breast tissue. The glandular tissues of the breast become fatty tissues. The fatty tissues block the milk ducts which results in inflammation and irritation of the duct. Its highest incidence is seen before the menopause. It is more common in the age of 40-45 years. However, it can develop at any age and even after menopause. It can also develop in children and men.

Smoking– smoking is one of the risk factors that promote the development of mammary duct ectasia. The reason may be direct toxic effects on the tissues of the breast tissue. It results in the inflammation of the ducts.

Inverted Nipple– inverted nipple symbolizes a serious medical condition like cancer. An inverted nipple may induce the blocking the milk ducts of mammary gland which lead to infection and inflammation of the ducts. An inverted nipple can be one of the risk factors of mammary duct ectasia.

Mammary duct ectasia is a medical condition that is caused by clogging or blocking of the milk ducts around the nipple. The fluid may disturb the integrity of the ducts by thinning its lining. The ducts become shorter, widened and dilated. The fluid is thick and sticky which are often discharged from the nipples. The condition improves itself without any treatment. It is a benign condition. It is not known to increase the chances of cancer.

Mammary duct ectasia can develop in any person, male, female or children at any age. Its incidence is most common at the age of 40-50 years of age when a woman is approaching menopause. However, one can develop this condition even after menopause.

The exact cause of mammary duct ectasia condition is not known. Many studies are currently going on to detect the exact cause of the disease.

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– Mammary duct ectasia 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.

  • Swelling, redness, and tenderness near the nipples
  • Embarrassing discharge from the nipple
  • Symptoms of infection like fever, malaise, and pain
  • An abscess formation in the breast
  • Appearance of a lump in the breast


Mammary duct ectasia is a condition characterized by the blocking of milk duct with thick sticky fluid. It usually does not have any symptom. If it represents symptoms, it causes pain, tenderness in the breast and the discharge from the nipple. The risk factors of this condition are increasing age, smoking habit and inversion of a nipple.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:December 5, 2018

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