A galactocele (also: lacteal cyst or milk cyst) is a retention cyst containing milk or a milky substance that is usually located in the mammary glands. They occur in women during or shortly after lactation.
They present as a firm mass, often subareolar, and are caused by the obstruction of a lactiferous duct. Clinically, they appear similar to a cyst on examination.The duct becomes more distended over time by epithelial cells and milk. It may rarely be complicated by a secondary infection and result in abscess formation.
Once lactation has ended the cyst should resolve on its own without intervention. A galactocele is not normally infected as the milk within is sterile and has no outlet through which to become contaminated.Treatment is by aspiration of the contents or by excision of the cyst. Antibiotics are given to prevent infection.
Galactocele may be associated with oral contraceptive use
Galactocele is a kind of cyst present in breast. Galactocele contains milky substance or sometimes milk. As the name indicates, galactea means milky white and coele means pouch. Galactocele are formed in the sub-areolar region of breast. The occurrence of galactocele is very rare. It occurs most commonly in pregnant women, lactating women or have just stopped lactation. It feels like a lump in breast. Galactocele are formed as a result of a kind of blockage in ducts of breast. These lesions may be uni or bilateral and nodules formed may be single or multiple. It mostly resembles breast cancer or clogged ducts. As these two conditions have symptom of lump formation.
Galactocele have a main visual symptom i.e. lump formation in breast. These lumps can be felt during lactation. Sometimes these lumps are painful and sometimes it’s not. Galactocele closely resemble breast cyst or blockage of ducts. Milky discharge occur from nipples and sub-areolar mass. Galactocele may be 1 or more in number. Patient feel physical discomfort. Fatigue and fever are not the symptoms of galactocele. If these occur, there may be infection secondary to it. Galactocele are not dangerous. There may be abscess formation secondary to galactocele and cause an infection.
Galactocele have many causes behind its formation. Galactocele may form secondary to any infection inside breast and can occur postpartum. The basic etiology is lesion in ducts of breast. Lactiferous ducts are present in breast. When these ducts get obstructed, distension occurs which lead to accumulation of milk and epithelial cells in these obstructed ducts. As a result, lumps filled with milk are formed. Oral contraceptive pills administration leads to the formation of galactocele. Galactocele are not infected as milk is produced inside breast ducts and is completely sterile. It do not have any way out except lactation.
Galactocele are a kind of cyst, so its treatment resembles cyst treatment. If infection is the root cause then antibiotics are prescribed to treat infection. Normally galactocele are not dangerous or fatal, so treatment is not required. But patient feel uncomfortable and need treatment. Excision is performed as in case of cyst. Excision is performed by making a little incision on breast and tumor is excised. If patient want to treat it herself, then she have to do regular breast massage to unclog the blocked ducts. Mostly galactocele resolve itself after lactation if it occurs due to weaning process.