So you have just seen your doctor to review the results after having a breast ultrasound scan and have you been told that you have breast or mammary duct ectasia?
Or was it that you came in to see your doctor because of pain and swelling in one of your breasts, with or without an associated brown or greenish discharge from your nipple and after a scan you were told you have duct ectasia?
Are you somewhat worried and wondering what exactly is duct ectasia of the breast? Could this be breast cancer? Am I in trouble?
No. You are not in trouble.
Duct ectasia of the breast or mammary gland is an absolutely benign breast condition occurring due to distension of the milk draining ducts beneath the nipple and clogging of these ducts.
It is also called:
This is because, there is often an associated on going surrounding chronic inflammation around the blocked duct.
This inflammatory changes lead to scar formation and retraction of the nipple.
Duct ectasia could affect only one or both breasts simultaneously.
It is commonly seen in women in their early 40s to 55 years of age, though it can occur later in life.
Ductal ectasia is also more commonly seen in women who smoke, or who are exposed to cigarette smoke over a long period of time.
Though the exact cause of ductal ectasia is unknown, it is believed to result from from a chronic irritation and inflammation around the affected ducts, leading to clogging of the ducts with secretions, dead tissues and pus.
In some cases, these blocked ducts could lead to abscess formation.
Most women with this condition would have no obvious symptoms, especially in the early stage.
The most common symptoms of duct ectasia of the breast are:
One or both breast could be affected at the same time.
Diagnosis is usually done with the aid of a breast ultrasound scan.
Your doctor will likely examine your breast carefully if you came with any of the above symptoms to establish that there is a change in your breast structure. The usual finding is that of a tube-like swelling under the nipple.
He or she would then send you for a breast ultrasound and depending on how your breast feels and your age, a mammogram.
Ultrasound scan is more informative than a mammogram in the diagnosis of ductal ectasia.
When the diagnosis is still in doubt, some doctors may proceed with a fine-needle aspiration biopsy to see if it is something more serious. But this would not be necessary if the reporting radiologist is sure that the ultrasound findings is consistent with a periductal mastitis.
To be clear, there is no relationship between ductal ectasia and breast cancer.
Breast cancer is due to changes in the cells of breast, while ductal ectasia is due to a mechanical blockage and chronic inflammation and in some cases, infection of the breast.
Ductal ectasia is not a risk factor for breast cancer.
Last Updated: 9th Day of September 2018.