Mammary duct ectasia appears when a milk duct under the nipple extends, the walls of the duct thicken and the duct fills with fluid. Thus the milk duct can become blocked from a sticky, thick substance. This condition usually doesn’t have symptoms, although some women may have discharge from their nipple, can feel tenderness in their breast or the blocked duct can get infected. Mammary duct ectasia usually affects women that are around 45 to 55 years old, but it can also affect women that have already experienced menopause. Generally, the mammary duct ectasia improves on its own. However, if the symptoms don’t go away i.e. they are consistent, the doctor may prescribe antibiotics or sometimes even recommend a surgery if the affected milk duct should be removed. This condition doesn’t indicates any risk for breast cancer.
Usually, mammary duct ectasia doesn’t cause any symptoms, but if there are any symptoms noticed, they would be:
- Discharge of the nipple in dirty white, greenish or black colour
- Reddish nipple and the area around it
- Tenderness of the nipple and the area around
- Inverted nipple
- Lump or thickening of the breast near the blocked duct
Mastitis-bacterial infection- can also develop in the affected milk duct what will cause breast tenderness, inflammation around the areola and fever.
The symptoms of mammary duct ectasia usually improve by themselves.
However, it is good to visit the doctor if any symptoms are consistent, especially if there is a discharge from the nipple, the nipple is inverted or any kind of changeis noticeable in the breast tissue.
It is not known what exactly causes the mammary duct ectasia to occur, but some experts associate the causes with:
- Change of the breast tissue because of aging
- Inversion of the nipple
Complications of mammary duct ectasia are minor and annoying rather than serious. They can be:
- Redness, swelling and tenderness around the nipples
- Nipple discharge that can make stain on the clothes or simply cause a woman to feel embarrassed
- Bacterial infection in the affected milk duct that if left untreated can lead to abscess for which a procedure may be needed to drain it
- Concern about having breast cancer
Although the symptoms usually improve on their own, if the symptoms are annoying, some of the following treatments may be an option:
- Taking antibiotics to treat an infection that mammary duct ectasia may cause
- Taking a pain reliever to reduce the discomfort
- Surgery to remove the affected milk duct
Also, the following self-measures can be of help:
- Wearing a support bra that may minimize the breast discomfort
- Using breast pads for the nipple discharge that will keep the liquid from leaking through the clothes
- Applying warm compresses that can calm the pain in the breast tissue
- Sleeping on the opposite side of the affected breast
- Quitting smoking