Some benign breast conditions produce
discharge from the nipple.
Since the breast is a gland,
secretions from the nipple of a mature woman are not unusual, nor
even necessarily a sign of disease. For example, small amounts of
discharge commonly occur in women taking birth control pills or
certain other medications, including sedatives and tranquilizers.
If the discharge is being caused by a disease, the disease is more
likely to be benign than cancerous.
Nipple discharges come in a variety of colors and textures. A
milky discharge can be traced to many causes, including thyroid
malfunction and oral contraceptives or other drugs. Women with
generalized breast lumpiness may have a sticky discharge that is
brown or green.
The doctor will take a sample of the discharge and send it to a
laboratory to be analyzed. Benign sticky discharges are treated
chiefly by keeping the nipple clean. A discharge caused by
infection may require antibiotics.
One of the most common sources of a bloody or sticky discharge
, a small wartlike growth that
projects into breast ducts near the nipple. Any slight bump or
bruise in the area of the nipple can cause the papilloma to bleed.
Single (solitary) intraductal papillomas usually affect women
nearing menopause. If the discharge becomes bothersome, the
diseased duct can be removed surgically without damaging the
appearance of the breast. Multiple intraductal papillomas, in
contrast, are more common in younger women. They often occur in
both breasts and are more likely to be associated with a lump than
with nipple discharge. Multiple intraductal papillomas, or any
papillomas associated with a lump, need to be removed.