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Breast Cysts

Many women experience breast cysts at some point during their lives, mostly before menopause. A breast cyst is a fluid-filled sac in your breast. It can be caused by a number of reasons, such as hormonal changes, breast surgery, breast reconstruction, or an injury to the breast.

A breast cyst can appear alone or in groups, and can be felt when you’re doing a breast self exam. A breast cyst can feel round or oval, “squishy” and may feel tender or painful to the touch.

Breast cysts may also be seen in a mammogram.

While breast cysts are usually benign and usually do not increase your risk for developing breast cancer, don’t hesitate to ask your doctor if you have a concern.

Diagnosis of a Breast Cyst

If you and your physician have detected a lump in your breast, you may be referred for a breast ultrasound or fine needle aspiration (see breast diagnostic services). The breast ultrasound can help determine if the lump is filled with fluid (a cyst) or is solid, which may or may not be a sign of breast cancer. The fine needle aspiration involves inserting a very thin needle into the lump to withdraw fluid. If fluid is drawn and the lump goes away, your physician can diagnose a breast cyst immediately.

Treating a Breast Cyst

Generally, a breast cyst does not need treatment. Surgical removal of a cyst is only recommended in unusual circumstances. Our breast health team will discuss monitoring and managing breast cysts with you.

Early Detection is Key

Mercy Health System offers patients the latest in cancer diagnostics, imaging and treatment options, as well as enhanced screening, education and support services. To learn more about our cancer care services, visit

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