Breast Discharge (Nipple Discharge): Symptoms & Signs

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Breast discharge is the spontaneous flow of fluid from the nipple at any time other than during nursing. Breast discharge can be caused by a wide range of disorders, including breast cancer, breast ectasia, and breast infection. Sometimes it's possible to feel breast cancer as a breast lump. The breast lump may or may not be painful or tender. Breast duct malformation (duct ectasia) can lead to breast discharge. Mastitis is the medical term for a breast infection, and mastodynia is the medical term for breast pain. Another name for the nipple is areola. A physician should evaluate persisting breast discharge (nipple discharge).

Related Symptoms & Signs

REFERENCE:

Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/8/2017
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