Mammary Duct Ectasia is a condition that primarily affects women around 40 to 50 that are beginning the first stages of menopause. It causes the milk ducts of the breasts to become swollen, thickened in the walls, and clogged.
While it can interfere with the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer, it is a benign condition. The condition is primarily caused by age, but smoking can increase the chances of developing it.
Detecting a case of mammary duct ectasia in oneself can be very frightening because some of the signs mimic the symptoms of breast cancer.
The human breasts are composed of connective tissues, including a complex network of intertwining milk ducts, essentially tiny passages made for carrying milk out to the nipples to feed infants and babies. Mammary duct ectasia happens when one of these many milk ducts underneath the nipple broadens after it is blocked or possibly clogged with some sort of sticky substance, becoming inflamed as a result.
Physicians and researchers are not sure exactly what sort of blockage leads to mammary duct ectasia, but some speculate it is associated with the following:
For short-term cases, most women can wait out the condition and resolve the symptoms without seeking treatment. Applying heat to the breast and nipple can reduce pain and speed up recovery. Benign cases usually clear up within a week or two.
If pain and discharge persists longer or returns regularly, your doctor may recommend a simple surgery to remove the affected ducts. This can end the cycle of mammary duct ectasia without putting you at significant risk for other problems. Unlike the duct infections that can affect younger women, infections are rarely needed for this form of duct ectasia.
Antibiotics may be prescribed to prevent a secondary infection from complicating your healing process after surgery.
To prevent mammary duct ectasia, women are advised to regularly have their breasts checked, as early detection of this condition can lead to the correct diagnosis and preventive medical treatment. It is important to pay close attention to your breast hygiene, cleaning them frequently to prevent infection and inflammation. Women who are lactating must take special care in both cleaning their breasts and managing breast feeding. It is advisable to choose comfortable, clean underwear to reduce the chances of disease or infection.