Nipple secretions are any fluid or fluid that comes out of your nipple. You may need to squeeze the nipple to remove the fluid, or it may come out alone. Nipple secretions may occur at a childbearing age, even without pregnancy or lactation. Secretions are not usually dangerous, but they may be a sign of breast cancer, so see a doctor.
- Each breast contains twenty milk ducts, and fluid may leak from them, and some milk may also leak from the breast during pregnancy or breastfeeding.
- Nipple discharge in men is abnormal, and you should always visit a doctor for a medical examination in this case.
Types and symptoms of secretions:
The colors of the nipple secretions are numerous, and the color may indicate the cause of the secretion. The following table shows this relationship for non-lactating women:
Exudate may come out of one or both nipples, and it may seep alone or only when the nipple is squeezed.
You may notice other symptoms with nipple discharge, such as:
- Breast pain.
- A lump or swelling in the breast or around the nipple.
- Changes in the nipple, such as inward turning, studding, change in color or itching.
- A change in the size of the breast, such as being larger or smaller than the other.
- Having a fever.
- It is too late.
- Nausea or vomiting.
Causes of secretions:
Some milk may leak from your breasts during pregnancy or breastfeeding, starting in the early stages of pregnancy, and lasting two or three years after you stop breastfeeding.
However, non-pregnant or breastfeeding women may also experience nipple discharge, including:
- Contraceptive pills.
- Inflammation of the breast or the presence of an abscess in it.
- Papilloma: a harmless wart-like growth in the milk ducts.
- Take medications that increase the milk production hormone (prolactin), such as antidepressants and sedatives.
- Excessive breast or nipple stimulation.
- Hormonal fluctuations in menstruation or menopause.
- Breast fibrosis.
- Breast injury.
- Breast ducts dilate, causing blockage of the milk ducts.
- Benign prolactinoma in the pituitary gland.
- breast cancer.
Nipple secretions and breast cancer:
Breast cancer causes nipple secretions, especially local ductal carcinoma, the early form of breast cancer that begins in the milk ducts. Paget’s disease in the breast may also cause secretions, a rare type of breast cancer that affects the nipple.
If the secretions are caused by cancer, they are usually from one breast and may be accompanied by a lump in the breast.
The discharge is rarely the result of cancer. A study found that only 9% of women aged 50 or over who consulted a doctor due to nipple secretions were found to have breast cancer, however it is advisable to see a doctor for a medical examination if nipple secretions emerge, especially if it is a new symptom you have.
When should I consult a doctor?
Nipple secretions do not usually cause anxiety, but because they are signs of breast cancer, it is advisable to quickly see a doctor in the following cases:
- Having a lump in the breast.
- Changes in the nipple, such as peeling or discoloration.
- Breast pain or any of the symptoms of breast cancer.
- Bloody secretions.
- Symptoms should be limited to one of the breasts.
- Secretions from the nipple constantly exit.
The doctor will ask you the following questions:
- When did the discharge begin?
- Is it from one breast or breasts?
- Do secretions seep alone, or do they come out with squeezing the breasts?
- Do you have other symptoms?
- What medications do you use?
- Are you pregnant or breastfeeding?
After that, the doctor will conduct a clinical examination to check for any lumps in the breast or any signs of breast cancer, and some of these tests may order:
- Biopsy: The doctor takes a small sample of breast tissue to send to the laboratory for examination for cancer.
- Mammography, which imaging the breasts with an x-ray to help the doctor detect cancer.
- Mammography: Breast mammography is used, and a silhouette of infrared is injected into the milk ducts within the breast for imaging.
- Ultrasound: This test uses ultrasound to visualize breast tissue.
The doctor often requests a urine or blood test to check for a pregnancy.
Once you know the cause of nipple secretions, they can be treated if necessary. If the secretions are due to pregnancy, breastfeeding, or hormonal changes, treatment may not be necessary, and if there is another reason, the doctor determines the treatment based on the condition.