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Doctors' Answers to "Frequently Asked Questions" - Breast Problems

Related Women's Issues

These comments are made for the purpose of discussion and should NOT be used as recommendations for or against therapies or other treatments. An individual patient is always advised to consult their own physician.

Breast Secretion [posted 11/11/98]
Question: I recently had a very small amount of secretion from the right breast one day before my period was to begin. Is this normal?

Answer: Fairly common, but, if it continues it will need to be checked.

Breast Pain [posted 11/4/98]
Question: I have had a tearing pain in my left breast. This has gotten worst as the year has passed. I have had a negative mamagram,chest x-ray and rib x-ray.My doctor thinks it is just one of those unknown things and suggest cortisone shots. I am concerced because ten years ago I had a negotive biospy in this area. A wire was inserted to lead the doctor to the questionable area. I think maybe this is scar tissue tearing and I am doubtful that crtisone will do anything but conceal the pain I have. This pain is mostly as I bend or reach in a forward and downward motion. It has progressed over the last year to the point of interfearing with my daily routines. I am in a HMO and don't think they would approve of an MRI. Is there any other avenue that could be persued? I have the fear that it is scar tissue from a procedure many years ago that is causeing this pain and I have doubts that cortisone is the right treatment and may only cover the source of the pain instead of soving the problem.

Answer: Have you seen a pain specialist. If a nerve, a block would be both diagnostic and thereuputic. Also, occasionally referred pain from the stomach, gall bladder, pancreas will be felt in the left chest. So, consider these organs as sources of the pain.

Enlarged Breast/Gynomastia [posted 10/16/98]
Question: What is the best surgical treatment for gynecomastia and how much is the cost of treatment?

Answer: Surgical reduction, usually $2000 dollars each breast.

Breast Discharge [posted 8/11/98]
Question: I had a breast reduction surgery in 1996. Seven months later I developed breast discharge. At the time, my gynecologist said it was related to the surgery. But since then I have seen the surgeon, who says my surgery could not have stimulated the discharge because the nipples were free grafted. I go to a new gynecologist in two weeks. What tests should be performed? If nothing is found, is there any known treatment for this problem? Thanks!

Answer: You need to check your prolactin and thyroid hormone levels. Both can do this. Other possibilities are Birth Control Pills, certain antidepressants, etc. If it persists with a negative workup, treatment with Parlodel will usually control it. If your initial gyn doesn't know this, you are making a good choice to change.

Breast Problems [posted 8/4/98]
Question: I am 23 years old and have been having extreme problems with my breasts. I have woke up in the middle of the night lying on my stomach and have had to turn over on my back because my breasts were in so much pain that even a flat sheet lying on them hurt. Also, I have been having secretions (clear, clear with white fluid, and white) from my areolas for about 5 months now and the only thing my doctor has done is check my Prolactin level which turned out to be normal. So why would he prescribe Parlodel for me when I can deal with the pain but am concerned about the secretions, especially since I am not pregnant? Can a change in birth control pills be the culprit of the secretions? I switched from Ortho-Cyclen to Loestrin about 8 months ago because the Ortho-Cyclen was no longer benefiting me in regards to alleviating pains due to endometriosis.

Answer: Yes, the birth control pills could be the culprit. Try switching back to your old ones for a test. It would take 2-3 months before you would know. Secondly, even normal prolactin levels can produce galactorrhea (breast discharge) and he/she is trying the parlodel to see if it suppresses the discharge, which is what most physicians would do. This is a fairly common problem - if you talk to enough women, about 1/100 would have this problem.

Tender Breast - Infection? [posted 7/27/98]
Question: Can you get a breast infection even if you are not nursing and haven't for many years? One of my breasts is very tender. I can feel no lumps and I can see no black-and-blue marks. It feels the way it did when it was developing an infection while I was nursing. Could it be more serious?

Answer: Yes. It happens with plugged ducts, etc. Painful and should be treated, but certainly not cancer or predisposing to cancer.

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