Blocked milk ducts are milk ducts that are blocked with thick secretions and cause obstruction to milk drainage. Commonly seen in lactating women due to improper technique of breastfeeding, infrequent breastfeeds, and missed feed, poor attachment, trauma to the breast and by wearing tight clothes.
Blocked milk ducts can also be seen if you have duct ectasia. Duct ectasia is widening and shortening of a milk duct in the breast, the thickness of the duct walls increase and the ducts secrete a fluid which is thick and sticky. This fluid blocks the duct and give rise to clogged ducts. Duct ectasia is seen in women closer to menopause (peri-menopausal age). With aging, the breast tissue composition changes from glandular to fatty tissue. This change might cause the ducts to widen, short and fill with fluid which leads to the inflammation of the ducts and breast tissue.
Can Blocked Milk Ducts Lead To Cancer?
Does blocked milk ducts causes cancer? No, blocked milk ducts does not cause cancer and it does not increase the risk of you getting breast cancer. Blocked milk ducts can cause mastitis and it increases the risk of getting mastitis if you have it. Studies done on blocked milk ducts and duct ectasia has shown that it does not increase the risk of getting cancer and it is not a pre-malignant condition.
Most women worry about cancer when they get blocked milk ducts is because they feel a lump in the breast. They think it can be cancer. Also inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) has similar features like mastitis, with skin changes.
Lump in blocked milk ducts is a small, hard, tender nodule which you feel suddenly, if this progress into mastitis the affected area of the breast becomes very painful, red, swollen and warm to touch. Lump in a breast cancer is not painful (sometimes it can be painful), very hard, lacks a regular margin and difficult to move (attached to the skin or muscle).
In inflammatory breast cancer the breast is swollen, appears red, the overlying skin has red/purple bruises and ridges/pits (like a skin of an orange). Nipple inversion and lymph node enlargement is also present. Lump may not be present in inflammatory breast cancer. As you see some features of inflammatory breast cancer is similar to mastitis.
Best way to confirm whether you have cancer or not is by consulting a doctor and doing the necessary investigations to diagnose or rule out cancer. Your doctor will examine you and order investigations like mammogram or ultrasound scan or biopsy depending on the situation. This helps the doctor to confirm the diagnosis and exclude breast cancer. You will also feel sure about the diagnosis and not worry about having breast cancer.
Symptoms Of Blocked milk ducts
- Pain in the affected breast/s
- Lump in the breast (usually one breast gets affected)
- A white blister can be present in the nipple
- If mastitis is present – fever, swelling, redness, pain and warmness in the affected part of the breast.
Blocked milk ducts are milk ducts that are blocked with thick secretions and cause obstruction to milk drainage. Blocked milk ducts can lead to mastitis, but it is not a pre-malignant condition and it does not increase the risk of breast cancer. Therefore, you do not need to worry about breast cancer with clogged ducts. Blocked milk ducts are seen commonly in lactating women due to poor breastfeeding techniques and infrequent feeding. Blocked milk ducts can also be seen if you have duct ectasia. Most women worry about cancer when they get blocked milk ducts is because they feel a lump in the breast and some features of inflammatory breast cancer is similar to mastitis. If you feel a lump in the breast consult a doctor, the doctor will do a breast examination and order relevant investigation to diagnose the condition and to rule out cancer.
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