Blood In Nipple Discharge

What Causes Bloody Nipple Discharge?

Bloody nipple discharge can have various causes, ranging in severity from 'needs attention' to 'generally fatal'.  Finding the true cause means ruling out or confirming each possibility – in other words, diagnosis.

Diagnosis is usually a complex process due to the sheer number of possible causes and related symptoms.  In order to diagnose bloody nipple discharge, we could:
  • Research the topic
  • Find a doctor with the time
  • Use a diagnostic computer system.
The process is the same, whichever method is used.

Step 1: List all Possible Causes

We begin by identifying the disease conditions which have "bloody nipple discharge" as a symptom.  Here are three possibilities:
  • Male Breast Cancer
  • Breast Cancer
  • Drug Side-Effects

Step 2: Build a Symptom Checklist

We then identify all possible symptoms and risk factors of each possible cause, and check the ones that apply:
whitish nipple discharge
breast cancer in mother
often/always feeling unusually cold
breast cancer in family members
almost-black nipple discharge
constant slight bloating
extended bra wearing
elevated eosinophil count
having elevated melatonin levels
current birth control pill use
early puberty onset
history of breast cancer
... and more than 10 others

Step 3: Rule Out or Confirm each Possible Cause

A differential diagnosis of your symptoms and risk factors finds the likely cause of bloody nipple discharge:
Cause Probability Status
Drug Side-Effects 95% Confirm
Breast Cancer 22% Unlikely
Male Breast Cancer 4% Ruled out
* This is a simple example to illustrate the process

Arriving at a Correct Diagnosis

The Analyst™ is our online diagnosis tool that learns all about you through a straightforward process of multi-level questioning, providing diagnosis at the end.

If you indicate having nipple problems, The Analyst™ will ask further questions including this one:
If you have any unusual discharge from your nipples, is it bloodstained?
Possible responses:
→ Don't know / I am pregnant or lactating
→ There is no discharge
→ No
→ Yes
Based on your response to this question, which may indicate either no blood in nipple discharge or bloodstained nipple discharge, The Analyst™ will consider possibilities such as:
(Prescription) Drug Side-Effects

Some medications can cause non-bloody nipple discharge.  The most common culprits are cimetidine (for stomach problems), oral contraceptives, some antidepressant and other drugs for psychological problems, and domperidone (for nausea).  Even if you have not noticed any blood, your doctor may ask you to try to squeeze a few drops out, and will test it for microscopic blood.

Breast Cancer

Nipple discharge can be a symptom of breast cancer, particularly if it is bloodstained.  You should definitely discuss any nipple discharge with a doctor – especially if you are a man, because the usual cause is a tumor and you will need treatment.