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Nipple discharge, simply put, refers to any fluid that comes out of your nipple. Whether it’s squeezed out or seeps on its own, it’s a common occurrence. While it can occur in women during pregnancy and breastfeeding, it’s not always a sign of cancer. However, it’s essential to get it evaluated by a specialist for peace of mind. Men experiencing nipple discharge should also seek medical attention promptly.

What Does Nipple Discharge Look Like?

Nipple discharge can vary in appearance, ranging from milky to clear, yellow, green, brown, or bloody. It can come from one or both nipples and may vary in consistency from thick to thin. The color and consistency can offer clues about the underlying cause.

Causes of Nipple Discharge in Women

The color of the discharge can provide insight into its cause:

Brown:​ could suggest a blocked milk duct

Bloody:​ may indicate papilloma or breast cancer

Clear from one breast:​ could be a sign of breast cancer
During pregnancy or breastfeeding, milk leakage is common. Outside of these times, discharge may be caused by various factors, including infections, hormonal changes, medications, or even trauma.

Causes of Nipple Discharge in Men

Nipple discharge in men is not typical and warrants medical attention. Possible causes include breast enlargement, testosterone deficiency, pituitary tumors, or even breast cancer.

Other Symptoms to Note

Accompanying symptoms may vary based on the underlying cause and can include breast pain, lumps, nipple changes, fever, nausea, or fatigue.

Diagnosis and Treatment

While often benign, nipple discharge should be evaluated by a doctor to rule out breast cancer. Diagnostic tests such as biopsies, mammograms, or ultrasounds may be needed. Treatment will depend on the underlying cause, with some cases resolving on their own due to hormonal changes.
In conclusion, while nipple discharge can be alarming, it’s essential to remember that most cases are not cancer-related. Seeking prompt medical attention for evaluation and diagnosis is crucial for peace of mind and appropriate managemen
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I am a Consultant Oncoplastic Breast Surgeon. After years of training in surgical oncology, I have focussed my interest on the treatment of breast disease. In particular, my area of interest is the rapid assessment and management of all breast conditions, with a particular interest in the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer and an emphasis on breast conservation with an optimal cosmetic outcome.​

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