What Causes Mammary Duct Ectasia?

Mammary duct ectasia is a condition in which the lactiferous ducts get blocked or obstructed. Mammary duct ectasia may resemble the breast cancer. This condition is seen around the menopausal age.

What Causes Mammary Duct Ectasia?

What Causes Mammary Duct Ectasia?

The exact cause of mammary duct ectasia is not known. Breasts are formed of connective tissue. This includes the milk ducts, which are very small channels that deliver milk to the nipples. If a milk duct under the nipple gets widened and clogged due to a sticky substance it results in mammary duct ectasia. The duct also gets inflamed.

Some believe that the mammary duct ectasia may be caused due to some of the following factors-

  • Some changes happen in the breast tissue due to aging
  • As a part of the aging process, the breasts undergo involution.

These changes are normal however, sometimes they may lead to a blockage in the milk duct along with the inflammation, leading to mammary duct ectasia


  • There is a study that cigarette smoking can lead to widening of the milk ducts and thereby result in inflammation which may cause mammary duct ectasia

Inverted nipple

  • An inverted nipple can cause blockage in milk ducts and may lead to infection as well as inflammation. This may result in mammary duct ectasia.
  • A newly inverted nipple should never be overlooked, as it may be suggestive of more serious and a dangerous condition like cancer.

Should You Be Worried About Mammary Duct Ectasia?

Sometimes mammary duct ectasia may present with some minor complications. They are more irritating than they are actually serious. Such complications may include one or many of the following conditions

  • There may be a discharge from the breasts.
  • This is a very irritable and frustrating symptoms of them all.
  • If there is a discharge from the breasts, it may make your clothes wet and stained and this could be bothersome and embarrassing for some.
  • There might be a discomfort in the breast.
  • There can be redness, tenderness and swelling near the nipples in the breast which is affected by mammary duct ectasia.

The blockage may result in an infection

  • An infection also known as periductal mastitis can start in the milk duct that is blocked and affected.
  • This infection may sometimes cause pain near the nipple area.
  • There can be a feeling of malaise, a feeling of generally being unwell.
  • Fever can be present at times.
  • This infection if not treated promptly and efficiently may progress to become an abscess and it may result in pus accumulation in the breast tissue.
  • If this happens, it further becomes necessary to drain this pus and clear the infection by a procedure.

Breast cancer worry

  • When there are some changes in a breast, you may naturally worry about if it is a breast cancer
  • If there is a lump develops, it may make the worry feel more real
  • It is very important to get yourself checked so that mammary duct ectasia can be treated on time
  • However, getting mammary duct ectasia does not mean that you are more prone to getting affected by breast cancer in future

Treatment of Mammary Duct Ectasia

The mammary duct ectasia may or may not require a treatment

If the symptoms are too troublesome or embarrassing then the treatment is usually carried out by one or a combination of several methods like antibiotic administration, medications for pain and inflammation and surgery as a last resort if other methods do not work

Mammary duct ectasia is a condition that occurs when a milk duct below the nipples widens, gets filled with a fluid and gets inflamed. This condition generally is seen to be affecting the woman of the menopausal age. The lactiferous duct may get blocked and there might be a discharge from nipples. Though a bothersome condition it is not a serious one and may or may not require a treatment.

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:July 22, 2019

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