Doctor's Notes on Breast Cancer vs. Cyst Differences and Similarities
Breast cancer is the abnormal growth, development, and spread (metastasize) of breast tissue. A cyst is a thin-walled hollow cavity usually containing a fluid. Most breast cysts are not cancerous and do not contain cancer cells, although a few may (complex cysts). Some cysts may self-resolve, but breast cancer does not. Early breast cancer and small cysts may have no symptoms, but as breast cancer advances, lumps, breast discharge, nipple inversion, and breast skin changes may occur. If a cyst produces signs or symptoms, it may cause redness, swelling, or tenderness at the site. A doctor should investigate all breast cysts carefully to rule out breast cancer.
The root cause of breast cancer development is unknown, but it occurs in women mainly and may be related to hormonal changes, alcohol consumption, diet, and other factors. The same is true for the cause of breast cyst development although some evidence suggests that excess estrogen may contribute to their development.
What Are the Treatments of Breast Cancer vs. Cysts?
Once the diagnosis is confirmed, the treatment for a cyst is dependent on if it is causing problems and/or if there is an underlying problem. The majority of cysts are benign and do not need treatment. However, if they are causing symptoms, the following treatments may be used:
- Aspirating a cyst with a needle or catheter
- Surgically removing the cyst (including its capsule or covering)
- Medical treatment is limited to treating underlying causes
In contrast, after the breast lesion is diagnosed (breast cancer), the following types of treatment options may be used:
- Surgery: Surgical removal of tumor (lumpectomy or mastectomy with lymph node removal to a double mastectomy)
- Chemotherapy stops growth or kills many types of tumor cells
- Radiation therapy: external (beams of X-rays or protons) to stop growth or kill many types of tumors
- Targeted therapy: drugs and/or other compounds that attack specific cancer cells
- Hormone-blocking therapy: breast cancer cells sensitive to estrogen, progesterone
- Immunotherapy enhances immune system to fight cancer cells
In addition, other treatments are being researched in clinical trials; inclusion in a clinical trial may be suggested by your medical team. Ask the team members to explain the clinical trial if they recommend that you join.
Breast Cancer : Symptoms & Signs QuizQuestion
A lump in the breast is almost always cancer.See Answer
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Breast CancerBreast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer in women. Symptoms and signs of breast cancer include breast lumps, nipple discharge or inversion, or changes in the breast's skin. Treatment typically involves some type of surgery and depends upon the staging of the cancer, the tumor type, and the person's health.
Breast Lumps and PainBreast changes are common. From the time a girl begins to develop breasts and begins menstruating and throughout life, women may experience various kinds of breast pain and other breast changes. Causes of pain and lumps can include fibrocystic breast disease, premenstrual syndrome, cyclic mastalgia, normal hormonal fluctuations, onset of puberty or menopause, pregnancy, breastfeeding, estrogen therapy, chest wall tenderness, injury to the breast, shingles, use of certain medications, an infection in the breast, and breast cancer. If you have a lump in your breast, your doctor will check for various possible causes.
How Does Breast Cancer Start?I have a couple female relatives who have battled breast cancer, including my aunt who had a mastectomy. I want to be hypervigilant because I know it runs in families. Are there early signs or symptoms of breast cancer? What are the early stages, and how does breast cancer start?
Ovarian Cancer vs. Ovarian CystsOvarian cancer is a less common group of different types of cancer that start in the cells lining the ovaries. It is the fifth leading cause of cancer of the female reproductive system. Ovarian cysts are closed sac-like, fluid-filled structures in the ovaries. Ovarian cancer and ovarian cysts have similar symptoms and signs, for example, lower abdominal and/or pelvic pain, abdominal bloating, pain during intercourse, pelvic pain, urinary problems, constipation, and feeling full while eating. The differences in the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer and ovarian cysts include, 1) ovarian cancer can cause symptoms of fluid in the abdomen (ascites), loss of appetite, and menstrual abnormalities. 2) Ovarian cysts can cause lower back pain, pelvic pain after strenuous exercise, infertility, and heartburn. Most ovarian cancers occur in women who have finished menopause, around 45-70 years old, while ovarian cysts are common and occur in women of all ages. Some types of ovarian cysts increase the risk or may lead to ovarian cancer. Ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer of the female reproductive system.
Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.