It is a milk cyst (clogged milk duct) usually associated with childbirth, in both breast feeding and non-breast feeding mothers. A galactocele is a simple milk-filled cyst probably formed by overdistention of a lactiferous duct. Usually it presents as a firm, nontender mass in the breast tissue, commonly in the upper outer quadrants beyond the areolar border. Diagnostic aspiration is almost always curative.
A galactocele can occur postpartum or when there is an infection during lactation. The lactiferous ducts found in a woman’s breast become obstructed and these ducts become distended with produced milk as well as epithelial cells.
Galactoceles can be easily lanced with a needle and drained of fluid. However, if the galactocele becomes infected, it may require surgical removal.
Galactoceles are not serious or dangerous, but they may be uncomfortable. As with many cysts, the typical treatment for a galactocele is to leave them alone. When the hormonal change associated with pregancy and lactation cease, the condition should resolve on its own. But, in cases of true discomfort, attempts may be made to ‘drain’ the galactocele through fine needle aspiration. In fact, the diagnostic aspiration of fluid from they cyst may prove to be theraputic at the same time.
A milk-filled breast cyst can mimic fibroadenomas and breast carcinomas, but they are always benign and do not increase risk of breast cancer in any way. A cyst can be caused by anything that blocks a breast duct during breastfeeding. While breast carcinoma can technically cause a change and blockage of some kind, it’s much more likely that it’s the result of ordinary, benign causes. Milk cysts are the most common non-cancerous breast lesions in lactating women. They seem to occur more often after breastfeeding has stopped and due to milk being retained and stagnant within the breast ducts.