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I lost my brother to breast cancer. Since having children, I still get some milk out of the nipple. Is this normal?

Related Topics: Nipple, Milk, Breast Cancer

Answers From Experts & Organizations (1)

Women's Health
89 Answers
5,172 Helpful Votes

... It is important for women to know that breast cancer can be a man's disease as well. This also means that a genetic link can come from a male relative.

Fortunately, the symptom you describe is not likely to be linked to breast cancer risk. It is not uncommon for women to be able to get small amounts of nipple discharge after having breastfed. The usual triggers for this to occurs are: nipple stimulation a a part of sexual foreplay, hot showers, birth control pills, or "checking for discharge" by repeated squeezing.

Sometimes women will notice discharge from one or both nipples. This prompts concern, especially if she has not recently breast fed. Generally we tell women that bilateral, white or clear discharge , which is only present with nipple stimulation, is likely to be "normal." As mentioned above, being on birth control pills can sometimes enhance breast discharge. Certain psychiatric medications—especially the antipsychotics —can initiate nipple discharge. Bilateral, spontaneous secretions can be prompted by a pituitary problem, or hypothyroidism. Both low thyroid and elevated prolactin (from the pituitary gland) can be checked for using simple blood tests.

The most concerning nipple discharges are those which are red/bloody, unilateral, and coming from just one or two ducts. If you were my patient I would check a sample of the discharges for undiscernable blood (using the fecal blood card). I would do a careful breast exam and might send you for a mammogram or ultrasound—depending upon your age. I prefer to be safe rather than sorry--even when the discharge sounds non-pathologic. So get it checked out even though it is likely that you will be told it is OK.

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