Breast Cancer

Nipple Discharge

  • Nipple discharge that is spontaneous, ie it occurs without any pressure, squeezing or expressing is abnormal. The breast is a “modified sweat gland” and when squeezed it generally produces a small amount of fluid. 

What causes nipple discharge?

There are many causes of abnormal nipple discharge including:

  • Duct ectasia: a benign condition in which there is enlargement & inflammation of the milk ducts under the nipple
  • Duct papilloma: a growth within the milk duct near the nipple
  • Breast cancer. Nipple discharge that is spontaneous, blood-stained, persistent and unrelated to pregnancy or breastfeeding requires clinical assessment by your doctor and imaging of the breasts with ultrasound and mammogram (and sometimes MRI).

* Hormonal changes  due to medication or a brain tumour (prolactinoma) Rarely milky nipple discharge (galactorrhoea) can be due to medications for mood disorders and epilepsy and diuretics, and an uncommon usually benign brain tumour.

What are the treatments for nipple discharge?

  • Treatment for nipple discharge that is persistent generally requires surgery. 

This is not a substitute for medical advice. Please see your GP or breast surgeon if you have nipple discharge.

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