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Topic: Nipple discharge--when to worry?

Forum: Not Diagnosed but Worried — Meet others worried about developing breast cancer for the first time.

Posted on: May 21, 2010 10:53AM, edited May 21, 2010 10:54AM by slyspyder

slyspyder wrote:

Brief personal history-- I am 34 years old. Two years ago, experienced bloody discharge from right nipple and had diagnostic mammogram that showed a mass. Ultrasound guided biopsy showed mass was benign. Follow up MRIs at 6 month intervals also negative.  I see a board certified breast specialist annually and had physical exam 3 weeks ago by her that was normal.

 Brief family history-- mother died at age 38 of ovarian cancer.  Maternal grandmother had breast cancer at age 70 with mastectomy, developed uterine cancer at age  76.  At age 83 determined that breast cancer mets were present in bones and some organs. Maternal great grandmother had breast cancer with bi-lateral mastectomy in later years.

Current issue-- spontaneous clear discharge from right nipple that has been occurring for 4 days.  This discharge dries yellowish in color and dries "hardish" on a tissue.  This is a continuous discharge/drainage that is pretty small in amount.  It is pretty watery in texture. I went ahead and made an appointment with the breast specialist for Tuesday, but should I worry?  I know that discharge is normally nothing to worry about but it is spontaneous and unilateral and is the same breast as the bloody discharge two years ago and benign mass.  If the discharge stops, is there any reason to keep the appointment on Tuesday as the symptom would have resolved.

 Thanks for your words of wisdom!

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Posts 1 - 15 (15 total)

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May 21, 2010 12:30PM unlimited wrote:

Keep the appt.   I had this similar situation that occured in early 2001. It turned into Mastitis and took 2 antibiotics to clear it. I was 36 and haven;t nursed a baby for 2 yrs, and never acquired mastitis when I was breastfeeding my two kids.  Once Mastitis was cleared, went in for my first mammogram.  Every was normal.  Continued to watch it over the yrs with yearly mammos. Had additional discharge again in Fall of 2003, mammo was normal again.  Had always watched this right nipple.  In the Fall 2006, one day noticed a ' dimpling effect ' near that right nipple where the ' blocked duct' occurred forming mastitis back in Feb 2001.  Dimpling or indentation of skin could imply a mass or tumor pulling etc.  Had a mammo in Nov 2006, turned out to be breast cancer ... IDC  1.3 cm  Grade 1  which is a very slow growing cancer and can take YEARS before showing up on a mammo etc.  The cancer was in the very same area where the blocked duct occured 5 yrs earlier.  

It could very well be just a cyst or benign mass, but keep the appt.  I had the same as you from bloody... to leaving a yellowish crusty like residue with my night wear tops.  It also would come and go... and being aware of your breasts... will help esp when you notice something in addition such as a dimpling/indention of skin where something is tugging or pulling due to growth inside.

Good luck, let us know how things pan out or if you have further questions.

Hug 

Dx 11/20/2006, IDC, 1cm, Stage IIa, Grade 1, 1/21 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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May 21, 2010 01:08PM slyspyder wrote:

Thanks for your great information!  While I want the discharge to stop, I really kind of hope it keeps doing it until the appointment so she can see and test the discharge. I am feeling no pain with this.  However, I do think that breast is more sensitive than is typical...no pain, just sensitive.  I have never had children....very interesting how your cancer area was ultimately in the same location as your earlier issues. Certainly speaks for keeping an eye on things!! 

 Thanks again and would welcome any other input.

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May 21, 2010 08:50PM, edited May 21, 2010 10:45PM by Chancesmom

I feel for you slyspyder.{{{hug}}}

 I started having nipple discharge the end of December.... Long story short, I went to have the duct removed to take care of a small growth that they thought was causing the discharge.The Dr couldnt get wire localization in because of a problem with a 2nd duct leaking so surgery was cancelled. I went for an MRI that showed a lot of things, but not that particular growth.

 That was a month ago. I was left with 2 discharging ducts and told to go off estrogen. Well, I went off estrogen and then a bloody brown discharge started. I went back to the Dr and now I have a third duct discharging browny/red stuff. The Dr. took a swab and I will know more next week, but I have to say, I am tired of all this.My breast is now very sore and I am miserable. I feel like unless you are confirmed with cancer no one wants to offer advice.

Myself, I'm really sick of people saying "oh, it's nothing, you will be ok". Well, my only sister had very aggressive BC and my Dad died 3 months after being diagnosed with colon cancer.I am tired all the time and I am a private person IRL so I have no one to share with. 

 I wish people who have had nipple discharge, good or bad, would share. I am having a hard time finding personal stories of those who have had it.

 eta, I am turning 50, have had a complete hysterectomy and my kids are 16 and 17.  

Best of luck to you!Smile 

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May 21, 2010 09:34PM alligans wrote:

Hello!  Add me to the nipple discharge category.  So far Slyspyder my story is a benign one and hopefully it stays that way.

 Last May (09) I did my first breast exam after having a slightly high calcium blood test  months earlier.  Since I couldn't find a reason for the high calcium (which was a one time blip and just a little high...later went on to find that the cause was most likely dehydration) I had convinced myself from reading too much online that I had some kind of cancer, most likely breast since that it pretty much the only thing that I hadn't been tested for due to my age.  Anyway, I did the exam and everything was fine.  A few days later I wantedt to do it again just to be sure.  I found a different set of directions that said to squeeze the nipple.  I think I actually compressed my breast tissue rather than squeezing the nipple.  A small amount of clear, slightly yellow discharge came out and completely freaked me out.  The next day I went to my primary.  She examined me and didn't feel any lumps.  I already knew there were no lumps since I had been checking them non-stop after the discharge incident.  I immediately had a mammogram and ultrasound. Mammogram was negative however my ultrasound found a 1.6 cm solid nodule.  I knew something was up when the ultrasound tech stopped saying, "nothing to worry about" and I wasn't even asking her about it.  I was her measuring a black spot and knew something was up.  When I left I asked her if everything was still ok and she said, "nothing very worrisome".  I left freaking out.  Just the change her wording made me know that she found something.  I convinced myself that it had to be a cyst.  Two days later I got the call.  I nearly collapsed after being told that it was a solid nodule.  I had a core biopsy a few days later and within a week I learned it was a fibroadenoma (benign tumor...common for women in my age group...I'm 33).  I sought a second opinion with a breast surgeon at a breast cancer clinic.  He had his pathologist look over the slides to make sure everything was ok with the first report and everything was.  They also did some more ultrasounds with their breast specialist radiology department to make sure that the original images were good.  This past January I had my follow-up ultrasound and the tumor looks exactly the way it did in May of 09.  I have another check-up witht he surgeon in August.  I don't have an ultrasound appointment but I may ask for one.  Since the core biopsy I've noticed that after I ovulate the area where the tumor is gets tender.  The closer I am to my period, the more tender it gets.  I never noticed this before the biopsy but the biopsy was also pretty painful for me.  I don't think they numbed me very well and I let them know that I was in pain.  I could feel the needle ripping the tissue out of me.  Horrible, but very very very uncommon.  I think this is why I still get the cyclical pain, which is also common with fibroadenomas.  The breast surgeon says that the discharge is normal and that it's due to fibrocystic breasts.  My OB says it's hormonal.  I did notice that if I try hard enough I can get an even smaller amount to come out of the other breast when I squeeze on the exact same spot. 

 Let me just note that my discharge was never spontaneous and was only bloody for a few days after my biopsy (I had to check if it was still there after I removed the bandages and got freaked out by the brown color).  It went away and hopefully will never come back. 

You may want to get a second opinion from another breast specialist just to be sure that everything is ok.  Blood is usually a sign that something is going on (papilloma - benign - most of the time). 

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May 21, 2010 09:51PM geebung wrote:

I am a firm believer in checking any concerning symptom out until you get answers. It's not right that anyone should be made to feel they are overreacting. We know our own bodies and we know when something is not normal. It's much better to overreact than stick your head in the sand. If there is something wrong, then you have done the right thing by catching it as early as possible and if it's nothing, you have peace of mind.

I had a spontaneous, blood stained discharge from my right breast for nearly 2 years. I saw several doctors and ended up being referred to a breast centre. Samples of the discharge were sent to pathology. The result - excess estrogen and multiple cysts. All benign.

All this time, my left breast was quietly cooking up DCIS and by the time it was found, it was extensive and high grade and I had a mastectomy. So the discharging breast was benign and the other was not. How ironic! 

Dx 2/26/2007, DCIS, 6cm+, Stage 0, Grade 3, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+
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May 22, 2010 09:07PM toolie wrote:

I had nipple discharge for over a year-i went for momo, sono showed nothing-i had no family history so i thought it was nothing doctor advised a breast surgen but i thought what was the point if they were saying it was nothing-anyway i have dense bresats and they breast surgen ordered a mamo, son, and mri the mri showed a large dcis after surgery i wound up with idc stage2- chemo-no rads but i will tell you keep your appoint and don't stop until you are sure of what is going on. I wish i was not so stupid.

Kat

Dx 10/12/2008, IDC, <1cm, Stage IIa, Grade 3, 1/7 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2-
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May 22, 2010 09:36PM alligans wrote:

Toolie - May I ask you the nature of your discharge?  Bloody?  Clear?  Yellow?  Spontaneous or not?  Sorry for getting personal, but I'm just wondering because I have a small amount of clear to yellow fluid that I can express if I try hard enough and nothing other than a biopsy proven fibroadenoma has ever been found.  Mammo showed dense breasts but I'm young so that's normal.  No MRI only an ultrasound.

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May 23, 2010 05:04PM toolie wrote:

My discharge was clear-spontaneous but if i squeezed it or laid on that side it would come out. I often had stains on my pj's. My doctor said clear is not always good. Why not get the mri to be sure?

Dx 10/12/2008, IDC, <1cm, Stage IIa, Grade 3, 1/7 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2-
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May 23, 2010 06:06PM mimi79 wrote:

Yah, i had the same problem too and started at the age 27 which was 3 yeras ago. Since at 27yrs non of the doctors took me serious and they will tell me that most of the bloody nipple discharge are non cancerous and should not worry since i am young.Mind you,my mom had bc in her early 40's which made me question the doctors answers.All my mammograms and ultra sound were negave but still was not conviced i was ok. I switched to i different OBY and she refered me to a surgeon and the surgeon suggested i get an MRI  and it saved my life! I got a call from my doc 3 days later telling me that the MRI was posive ............ I would encourage you to get the MRI like i did.

Dx 2/26/2010, IDC, <1cm, Stage I, Grade 1, 0/1 nodes, mets, ER+/PR-, HER2-
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May 24, 2010 12:22AM LISAMG wrote:

With your significant family history, have you had genetic counseling/testing?? If not, time to take care of you!! Keep the appointment..you need answers.

High Risk for HBOC, BRCA Un-informative Negative Previvor, Bilateral Nipple Sparing Risk Reducing Mastectomy, August, 2010, Lipo/ Micro fat grafting with high profile implants, Nov.,2010. Risk Reducing Lap. BSO, October, 2011.

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May 24, 2010 01:09AM, edited May 24, 2010 01:12AM by CrunchyPoodleMama

Definitely keep the appointment... when was your last MRI? The specialist may do an ultrasound as sometimes that picks up things in young women that mammo doesn't.

Nipple discharge was one of my symptoms. In my case it was bloody but manifested as a tiny pin drop of blood inside my bra every day. 

Also, I believe benign lumps should be treated as though they could develop into cancer. For one thing, a biopsy could miss tiny areas of malignant cells. For another, I believe that fibrocystic changes are often headed toward cancer if steps aren't taken to reverse it -- the most important step being to have your iodine levels tested and start supplementing immediately with iodine. Iodine can clear up fibrocystic changes and lumps and prevent cancerous tumors from developing... may as well be proactive and start taking it rather than just get monitored every year and cross your fingers nothing malignant develops.

I second the idea of having genetic testing done. And you may want to (in addition to monitoring via MRI, assuming this turns out to be nothing to worry about) start monitoring with something called themography as well. Thermography used to be routine in checking for breast cancer, but it was discontinued by the medical industry when it was thought to find too many false positives (in actuality, in most cases it was finding cancer several years before a mammogram was able to detect it!). The down side is that it's not covered by insurance, so it will be a $100 to $200 investment, but it's WELL worth it for the peace of mind and it can be eye-opening and alert you to potential problems.

For example, I had thermography done a couple of months before my diagnosis. It showed inflamed areas all throughout what was later confirmed to be DCIS. But it also showed my other breast being inflamed and having fibrocystic changes -- but nothing cancerous, according to the doctors who reviewed my thermogram. Sure enough, that breast showed something on MRI which was biopsied and found to be fibrocystic changes -- just as the thermogram indicated. Now that it's 8 months later and I've been taking iodine for 5 months, I want to have another thermogram to see if it's cleared up my fibrocystic breast -- I'm pretty sure it has since my lumps and bumps have gone away.

Julia ~ Dear friends, do what you can to help your body fight/prevent cancer. 1. Supplement with iodine and vitamin D. 2. STOP taking hormonal birth control/HRT. 3. Eat organic real food, not chemical or fake food.

Dx 11/13/2009, DCIS, 4cm, Stage 0, Grade 2, 0/0 nodes, ER+/PR+
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May 24, 2010 07:06PM slyspyder wrote:

Thanks for all of the wonderful input!  My appointment is tomorrow.  The spontaneous discharge continues, but the volume is decreasing daily.  I at least hope that some can be expressed at the appointment if the spontaneous discharge stops.

Some answers to above questions--my last MRI was probably about a year ago. However, I had already planned to get one this month as at my last exam the breast specialist told me that one of my lifetime risk models now showed 30% risk so insurance would cover MRI.    As for genetic testing.... I have not done it.  I know it isn't popular on this board, but I am not sure I want to do that. Yes, my breast specialist puts incredible pressure to get myself and my maternal grandmother tested as she is still alive, but I am just not sure about the testing.  I want to take care of myself and I want to be proactive, but I am not sure I want to do the testing. I know most people here disagree, but I am just not sure yet.

 So...for those of you who relate the story of having problematic ducts with benign discharge for years and then ultimately finding cancer later in the same duct.....what would you have done differently when your discharge was turning up benign? Is there any different action you would take in retrospect?

Thanks again for the wonderful support and great answers!!! I really learn a lot reading here!!

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May 24, 2010 08:33PM CrunchyPoodleMama wrote:

slyspyder, no judgments here on not getting genetic testing done. I'm not having it done (in spite of my doctor strongly recommending it because of my young age at diagnosis), nor is my sister-in-law even though her mother is a breast cancer survivor.

what would you have done differently when your discharge was turning up benign? Is there any different action you would take in retrospect? 

The biggest thing I would have done differently would be IODINE SUPPLEMENTATION. And not take hormonal birth control (although I had already stopped that). Research indicates fibrocystic and other benign breast conditions can be reversed with sufficient levels of iodine in the body.

In addition to that, I'd give up my fake food addictions (Diet Coke, heat-up dinners, fast food, etc.) and eat "real food" (organic when possible) instead of the garbage that's advertised as food.

Julia ~ Dear friends, do what you can to help your body fight/prevent cancer. 1. Supplement with iodine and vitamin D. 2. STOP taking hormonal birth control/HRT. 3. Eat organic real food, not chemical or fake food.

Dx 11/13/2009, DCIS, 4cm, Stage 0, Grade 2, 0/0 nodes, ER+/PR+
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May 25, 2010 02:06PM slyspyder wrote:

Brief update--- I went to the breast specialist today who tested my clear/yellowish discharge and it showed traces of blood. Since this is the same side as the bloody discharge 2 years ago, she is doing a diagnostic mammogram and ultrasound this afternoon.  If that doesn't show anything larger in scope, she wants to do a ductoscopy and just remove that milk duct and send in to pathology for testing.  I am pretty pleased with the plan of action at this point.  I will keep you updated.

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May 25, 2010 05:14PM slyspyder wrote:

Update to the update....... mammogram and ultrasound done....no changes from previous images!!! Yay!!!!  Doc still wants to do the ductoscopy so will be scheduling that as there was still nothing new that would explain the discharge.