By Susha Cheriyedath, MSc
A breast oil cyst is a benign lump in the breast caused by the accumulation of fluid. Nearly 25% of breast oil cysts enlarge over time to become a lump that can be felt by one’s hand. Breast oil cysts are very common in women who are between 35 and 50 years old. These cysts do not progress to become cancerous and do not increase the risk of affected patients developing breast cancer in the future.
However, based on the nature of the oil cyst and the elements present in it, there is an extremely remote chance that its root cause is a malignant cancer in the breast. Although breast oil cysts do not increase the chances of cancer development, it is important for patients to be aware and see their doctor if they notice any breast changes in the future.
Simple breast oil cysts usually do not require treatment as they resolve on their own. Although they are fat filled, they don’t cause any symptoms. However, if the breast lump does not go away on its own or starts getting bigger or causing symptoms, a follow up with your physician is important.
In some cases, breast oil cysts do cause symptoms and necessitate treatment procedures such as the following.
The fluid present in the oil cysts can be removed using fine-needle aspiration. It involves aspiration of the fluid in the breast cyst using a fine needle to remove the breast lump. Some breast oil cysts may necessitate needle aspiration more than once, as recurrence of these cysts is common.
Oral contraceptives or birth control pills may be used to prevent the recurrence of breast oil cysts. However, there are some side effects involved with hormone use and it is recommended only for patients with severe symptoms.
Breast cysts are removed with the help of surgery in rare cases where a breast cyst recurs several times or it contains traces of blood or causes severe discomfort to the patient. This surgery is known as excision biopsy, which might leave a tiny scar.
There are some home remedies that help minimize the discomfort caused by breast oil cysts. They are as follows:
- Wearing a supportive bra to help relieve pain in the breast
- Cold or warm compress or an ice pack for pain relief
- Avoiding caffeine intake may help some women in managing symptoms of oil cysts
- Reducing intake of salt in the diet helps in fighting overall fluid retention in the body, which might also help in relieving discomfort due to fluid-filled breast lumps
- Drugs such as acetaminophen, naproxen, or ibuprofen are over the counter (OTC) pain medications that can help manage pain caused by breast oil cysts.
- Evening primrose oil is also an OTC fatty acid supplement that is used in treating breast sensitivity or pain associated with menstrual cycle. According to some studies, this supplement can also help relieve breast pain due to oil cysts. Research has shown that deficiency of linoleic acid in women can make them sensitive to hormonal changes during the monthly cycle and hence by using linoleic acid, the pain can be treated.
Reviewed by Yolanda Smith, BPharm
Last Updated: Oct 12, 2016