Ask an Expert: View a Question

Ask an Expert is a free question-and-answer service about breast cancer and breast health that is available on weekends. If you'd like to ask a question or comment, please visit us again on Saturday or Sunday. In the meantime, please search the existing topics using the search tool at the top of the page. It's quite possible that one of our many existing topics already addresses your question.

If you would like a consultation with a breast specialist at the Johns Hopkins Avon Foundation Breast Center, call 443-997-8282. It is possible to get an appointment for a second opinion within a few days of contacting us.

We hope you find the information helpful!.

ForumQuestionsAsk a Question
Complex Cysts
Questions about complex breast cysts.
1,316 This functionality is disabled from time to time due to volume.

AskedPublicly Submitted Question
6/7/2017Hi, I'm trying to figure out the typical number of cysts that a woman normally has and the maximum number ever found. Background: I've had lumpy breasts for 7 years and pain for over a year. A few months ago, the pain was so severe I couldn't sleep at night so I was sent for a mammogram and an ultrasound. Unrelated to the pain, they found a benign intraductal papilloma that is being removed next week (biopsy was last week).

The part that worries me is I was told I have over 100 cysts in my breasts, many of them complex, and that is the cause of my pain. They vary in size from a few mm to over 1 inch. I was told I can reduce my stress and eliminate caffeine to help manage the pain, but that there's nothing else to be done about it. I was told it was pointless to aspirate given the large number and likely recurrence. The scary part though is how all the technicians reacted. When I went for the mammogram, I was called an "over-achiever" and the technician said she had never seen that many. The next technician refused to do my ultrasound, saying it would take over 5 hours to map it and she made such a fuss that a doctor came in to relieve her and I was given a different technician. I was told they would only map the largest ones and whatever they could manage in 2 hours.

I've seen 4 doctors now over the past few months. When I ask what is typical/atypical for the total number of cysts, I'm told to "not worry about it" - and accept that I'll be in pain until post-menopause when they will likely resolve themselves.

Does anyone here know what is typical in terms of number of breast cysts and the maximum medical record? Is there anything to be done about the pain other than to just live with it?
RepliedJHU's Breast Center Reply
6/7/2017there is no statistical data about average vs max. I have seen a hundred in other women but its rare. those who have cysts commonly have 5-10 however. they pose a challenge for reading mammograms and ultrasounds.

Please note: This service is not intended to provide primary medical advice concerning specific medical care or treatment. Ask an Expert is a free service operated by health care professionals at the Johns Hopkins Avon Foundation Breast Center. Due to the volume of questions and their complexity, there are times when medical oncologists, surgeons, radiation oncologists or oncology nurses are consulted for their input. These individuals volunteer their time for this service and will respond as soon as they are able. Please do not post or send the same question to us in multiple locations or categories.

The contents of this portion of the website cannot be used as a substitute for a consultation with your doctor or other healthcare provider. It also may not represent the opinions of other Johns Hopkins professionals. It is a free service performed on volunteer time and intended to provide feedback to questions posted by consumers however should not be used as a directive or instructions to now follow. Seeing your own medical provider is always important in getting your needs and questions addressed. In the majority of cases, a clinical examination, review of pathology slides and xrays, along with other medical information is needed to truly provide a consultative service. If you wish to receive a formal consultation with our physicians please call 443-997-8282 for surgical appointments and 410-955-8964 for medical or radiation oncology appts. For breast imaging, call 410-955-4100.


© The Johns Hopkins University, The Johns Hopkins Hospital, and Johns Hopkins Health System, All rights reserved.