Why is my breast doing this (kinda gross, TMI)?
October 12, 2017 8:23 PM   Subscribe

I (menopausal, mid-50s, female) am experiencing a very small amount of dark, almost chocolate colored discharge from one duct of one nipple. Discovered a month ago as a tiny drop on my bra and otherwise has to be expressed, not spontaneous leaking. Things that make it worrisome: only one breast, dark {maybe bloody} color, started spontaneously, decades post-lactation. My doc *thinks* she palpated a small mass upon exam, but is unsure, and thought it felt like a duct, in any case. My nipple symptom continues and nothing showed on that ultrasound. Now I need to go for a breast MRI. What the heck, breast?

Neither my ASAP mammogram nor the subsequent ultrasound showed anything. No odd lumps, no calcifications, no enlarged ducts. Nothing suspicious. Nothing significant at all. I have not injured it. I do have dense breasts, but one would think an ultrasound would help see through that somewhat.

My google-fu tells me it could be an intraductal papilloma or duct ectasia (can those not show on ultrasound?)

My worry, of course, is that it IS a cancerous growth that the ultrasound somehow missed.

Does anyone have stats on how often an ultrasound misses something potentially significant?

You are not my doctor. I am not looking for medical advice. But if you have any experience or wry anecdotes to calm me until I can get my breast MRI (A week away! or more!), I'd be most grateful.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (4 answers total)
I had this! It flipped me out! In my case they just sent me straight to an expensive mammogram (not covered by insurance, fuck all y'all) and then to a breast specialist who said that it was unusual, did not seem to be a problem, "breasts are weird" and to let her know if it didn't go away. It went away. Sometimes you can either get one of those papillomas as you've seen, or otherwise do some small internal bruising thing that comes out as some discharge. I'm not saying it's nothing but giving you one data point of "This happened to me and in my case it was definitely nothing" Good luck getting it definitively resolved.
posted by jessamyn at 8:45 PM on October 12 [15 favorites]

This happened to my colleague. Due to a family history of breast cancer and the concern expressed by her doctor, she had a double mastectomy despite there being no signs of cancer in the tests prior to surgery. A post-surgery biopsy did discover some cancerous growth and she feels lucky that she was able to totally cut it off at the pass, so to speak. She had a reconstruction and loves her new breasts!
posted by Thella at 10:19 PM on October 12 [1 favorite]

I had/have a similar, recurring issue -- apparently I have a tendency to get benign cysts in my right breast that sometimes burst or leak during my period. I do get it checked out thoroughly every time it happens just to be safe, but here's another anecdote for the "it may or may not be nothing, but for me it was fine" tally.

It was very scary the first time, though! Be extra nice to yourself this week and maybe find some fun/ridiculous books or tv to curl up with if you can.
posted by bettafish at 12:57 AM on October 13 [2 favorites]

I'm guessing it was a cyst that's popped. Cysts come in a fun variety and boob cysts are actually pretty common.

They're little water balloons of misery, but if the ultrasound didn't show any damage or suspicious tissue, I would say you're gonna be just fine. Getting the gunk out is a good idea and definitely go back for a recheck in a while...but the human body is gross as hell and most of it won't kill you.
posted by InkDrinker at 1:13 AM on October 13 [4 favorites]

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