What Causes Bleeding From the Breast?

The Mayo Clinic says that nipple discharge refers to fluid that is emitted from the breasts of women who are not breastfeeding. It states that the nipple discharge can be bloody, milky, yellow or green in color. Sometimes, bloody nipple discharge can be a serious sign of an underlying breast disease. Fortunately, the causes of bleeding from the breast can be managed.

Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is a potentially life-threatening medical problem that is associated with such symptoms as bloody nipple discharge, a breast lump and an alteration in the shape, size or feel of the breast lump. Breast cancer that has spread (metastasized) can lead to such symptoms as bone pain, skin ulcers, unintentional weight loss, swelling of the arm, breast pain and skin ulcers.

MedlinePlus says that one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. It says that risk factors for developing breast cancer include having a family history of breast cancer, being over the age of 50 and having a defect in two breast cancer genes (BRCA1 and BRCA2). Obesity, alcohol use, radiation and childbirth are other risk factors for breast cancer.

Chemotherapy and radiation can eliminate breast cancer cells and tissues, while surgery can remove part or the entire breast. Hormonal therapy such as tamoxifen and targeted therapy such as transtuzumab can also treat breast cancer.

Paget's Disease of the Breast

The Mayo Clinic says that Paget's disease of the breast is a rare form of cancer that is primarily confined to the nipple. Specific symptoms of Paget's disease of the breast include a bloody nipple discharge, itching, redness and flaking or scaly skin of the nipple. The nipple can also be inverted or flattened. Sometimes, these changes only occur in one breast region. Unfortunately, the exact cause of Paget's disease is unknown.

Treatment for Paget's disease involves either a mastectomy or a lumpectomy. A mastectomy involves removing the entire breast, while a lumpectomy only involves removing the affected portion of the breast. Additional (adjuvant) therapy such as hormone therapy or anti-cancer medications can be prescribed to help manage Paget's disease of the breast.

Intraductal Papilloma

Intraductal papilloma refers to a harmless tumor that grows in the breast's milk ducts. Specific symptoms of intraductal papilloma can include bloody discharge from the nipple, breast pain and a breast lump. Sometimes, this breast disease can also lead to an enlarged breast. The cause for intraductal papilloma is unknown, but it typically occurs in women between the ages of 35 and 55. Surgery is utilized to removed the affected breast ducts.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
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