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Breast Cancer

Breast discharge

07/01/2008

Question:

I`m a 35yr old female. for about 3yrs now I notice a whitish discharge frome both breast. on self breast exam no nodule found. my doctor doesn`t seem to worry about it, but lately I`ve been feeling a little cramp especially in the left breast which makes me very uneasy. I stop using my birth control pill almost two years ago, but the breast discharge persist. What should I do?

Answer:

Most white nipple discharge in young women is benign, especially from both breasts. But there are a few questions whose answers might help explain the issue.

Is the discharge spontaneous, has it continued after breast feeding, or did it start in association with the birth control pill (BCP)? If spontaneous, and in association with breast feeding or the BCP, it can take quite a while to resolve. If it looks milky, and has been present for years after stopping the BCP or breast feeding, it is reasonable to get a serum prolactin level or see an endocrinologist. Prolactin is a hormone that causes milk production that can sometimes be produced abnormally causing milky nipple discharge.

If the discharge is only noticed when you try to express, stopping trying to express the discharge will usually get the symptom to stop.

I would recommend that you should see a breast surgeon for a second good breast exam to reassure you about the new symptom in the left breast as well as the discharge, though discharge is a rare symptom of breast cancer.

For more information:

Go to the Breast Cancer health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Paula  Silverman, MD Paula Silverman, MD
Associate Professor of Medicine
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University