What Are the Symptoms of Duct Ectasia?

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Duct ectasia is a non-cancerous (benign) breast disease that occurs when a milk duct in the breast expands and its walls become thicker. Also referred to as mammary duct ectasia, this condition can result in one or more blocked milk ducts and subsequent fluid build-up.

The majority of duct ectasia cases don’t cause noticeable symptoms and are only discovered during treatment for an unrelated condition. In other instances, some women experience symptoms such as:

  • Discharge from one or both nipples that may appear white, black, green or bloody
  • Unusual redness or tenderness around the nipple or areola
  • A lump or thickened tissue near the blocked duct
  • An inverted nipple

Mastitis—a bacterial infection—can sometimes develop in a blocked milk duct, causing additional symptoms such as fever, breast inflammation and tenderness. If you notice any unusual discomfort or changes in one or both breasts, be sure to promptly speak with a medical professional who can perform necessary tests and determine the cause of your symptoms. Testing may involve a mammogram, ultrasound or fine needle aspiration (FNA).

What Causes Duct Ectasia?

Duct ectasia may develop from normal, age-related changes to the composition of breast tissue. This condition typically occurs in the years leading up to menopause, but it can affect women after menopause, as well. Cigarette smoking has also been linked to mammary duct ectasia and breast inflammation.

How is Duct Ectasia Treated?

Many women with duct ectasia don’t require treatment, as this condition often resolves on its own. Others may receive antibiotics for mastitis or use pain relievers or warm compresses to soothe any lingering discomfort. If a woman’s symptoms do not respond to conservative measures, surgery to remove the affected duct (or ducts) may be recommended. In some advanced cases, a total duct excision to remove all major milk ducts can be performed.

Duct Ectasia Treatment at Tufts Medical Center Community Care

Comprehensive treatment for duct ectasia and other breast conditions is available at Tufts Medical Center Community Care. Our multispecialty medical group offers a full range of medical care to local families at easily accessible locations throughout north suburban Boston. In addition to conservative treatment from experienced gynecologists and primary care physicians, our practice also specializes in minimally invasive breast surgery.

Tufts Medical Center Community Care’s growing team includes board-certified and fellowship-trained breast surgeons who are skilled in the latest surgical techniques. Working hand-in-hand with gynecologists, primary care physicians and other clinicians in our expansive network, our surgeons help women achieve their best breast health through minimally invasive treatments.

Contact Tufts Medical Center Community Care today to learn more about our approach to breast surgery and duct ectasia treatment. With convenient locations throughout the area and better-than-average appointment availability, we make it simple to receive specialized breast health services close to home. Don’t delay the care you need—give our professionals a call or request an appointment on our website.

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