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Women's Health

What does it mean if I have nipple discharge?

A Answers (2)

  • Nipple discharge can be common for pre-menopausal women, or women who are about to stop having a monthly period. The discharge is a normal result of hormone changes happening in your body. The liquid can leak from either or both breasts.

    Some forms of nipple discharge can indicate a bigger problem. These forms of more concerning nipple discharges include:

    • Bloody nipple discharge: If you have bloody discharge oozing from your breast, you may have a papilloma. This is a wart-like mass inside your milk duct that irritates your tissue and produces the bloody liquid. This can also be a symptom of breast cancer.
    • Greenish nipple discharge: If you have nipple discharge that it army green in color, you may have a breast cyst underneath the nipple and areola area that is spontaneously draining. Your doctor can confirm and evaluate this problem with imaging studies, like an ultrasound, which creates a digital picture of the inside of your breast.
    • Clear nipple discharge: If you have clear nipple discharge, you may have abnormal or even cancerous cells, inside your breast. The risk of cancer is lower when both breasts leak discharge.

    If you have any kind of nipple discharge, it is important to consult your doctor, as it may signal other worrisome health problems. If you have discharge coming from one or both of your breasts, and if the discharge is new and has not been thoroughly investigated, we strongly recommend that you make an appointment with a breast specialist.

  • AElaine Lee Wade, Oncology, answered on behalf of NorthShore University HealthSystem
    Breast discharge can mean many things, including infection, inflammation, hormonal stimulation or cancer. Persistent nipple discharge, particularly if blood is seen, is an indication for medical assessment.
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