What is nipple discharge?
Any fluid that seeps out of the nipple of the breast is called nipple discharge and can be normal or abnormal.
What is a normal nipple discharge?
Nipple discharge is a normal part of breast function during pregnancy or lactation and is seen from both breasts. This discharge can continue for up to two years after stopping lactation. It is released when the nipples are compressed or squeezed and can be associated with menstrual hormone changes. Excessive breast and nipple stimulation can cause nipple discharge.
What is abnormal nipple discharge?
A nipple discharge can be milky, clear, yellow, green, brown or bloody and should be evaluated by a doctor. A condition in which a woman’s breast secretes a milky discharge when not breastfeeding is known as GALACTORROHOEA.
Important causes of galactorrhoea-
- Pituitary gland tumors with hyperprolactinemia
- Certain medications, including some hormones, antiemetics & antaacids and psychotropic drugs
- Some herbs, such as anise and fennel
- Illegal drugs, including marijuana
Causes of non-milky nipple discharge include:
- Breast infection or Abscess
- Fibrocystic breasts
- Injury or trauma to the breast
- Intraductal papilloma
- Mammary duct ectasia
- Paget’s disease of the breast
- Breast Cancer
When should one suspect a cancer?
- A palpable lump in the breast
- Presence of skin changes over the breast lump or a fixed lump
- Only one breast is affected
- Nipple discharge contains blood
- Nipple discharge is spontaneous
Nipple discharge is not always associated with breast cancer, but it could be a sign of an underlying disease of the breast that requires evaluation by a physician.
Dr Rooma Sinha
Hon Associate Professor,
Senior Consultant Gynecologist, Laparoscopic & Robotic Surgeon,
Apollo Health City, Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad