c l i n i c a l f o l i o s : n a r r a t i v e





A D V E R T I S E M E N T

 

Breast Cancer: Overview: 4

A D V E R T I S E M E N T

   
 

Breasts normally have nodular areas. If the nodularity is pronounced, and associated with pain, it is called fibrocystic disease. When a physician feels a new lump, he or she first determines if it is the same as nodularities in the rest of the breast, or if it is discrete and significant.      

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Breast Cancer: Overview: 5

A D V E R T I S E M E N T

   
 

Sometimes the mass is clearly a smooth, round, soft cyst. If so, the physician may simply puncture it with a needle at the time of the examination and aspirate the fluid. If the fluid is light and cloudy it is usually discarded. If it is bloody it is sent to be examined by a cytologist/pathologist for abnormal cells (cytology). If there is no residual mass after all the fluid is drained, the patient is seen again in a few weeks to see if the cyst has refilled. Two or more aspirations may be necessary. If the cyst persists, it may need to be surgically removed (excised).     

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Breast Cancer: Overview: 6

A D V E R T I S E M E N T

   
 

If the mass is not clearly cystic, the physician may send the patient for ultrasound examination, which is used to differentiate solid masses from cysts. If the ultrasound shows a cyst, or a group of cysts without a solid component, the physician may choose either to take no further action or to aspirate one or more of the cysts with ultrasound guidance.      

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This page was last modified on 7/8/1999.