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Nipple discharge is a typical part of breast function during pregnancy or breast-feeding. It may also be associated with menstrual hormone changes and fibrocystic changes. The milky discharge after breast-feeding usually affects both breasts and can continue for up to two or three years after stopping nursing.
A papilloma is a noncancerous (benign) tumor that can be associated with bloody discharge. The discharge associated with a papilloma often occurs spontaneously and involves a single duct. Although the bloody discharge may resolve on its own, your doctor will likely recommend a diagnostic mammogram and a breast ultrasound to see what's causing the discharge. You may also need a biopsy to confirm that it's a papilloma or to exclude a cancer. If the biopsy confirms a papilloma, your doctor will refer you to a surgeon to discuss treatment options.
Often, nipple discharge stems from a benign condition. However, breast cancer is a possibility, especially if:
Possible causes of nipple discharge include:
Causes shown here are commonly associated with this symptom. Work with your doctor or other health care professional for an accurate diagnosis.
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