What Causes Nipple Discharge?
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 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 "nipple discharge" as a symptom. Here are three possibilities:
- Pregnancy Issues
- Male Breast Cancer
- Breast Cancer
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:
being pregnant again
chronic non-cyclical breast pain
discharge from one nipple only
breast cancer in mother
multiple swollen axillary nodes
being a smoker
short-term low-carb dieting
history of breast cancer
history of birth control pill use
high chance of becoming pregnant
... 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 nipple discharge:
|Male Breast Cancer
* This is a simple example to illustrate the process
Arriving at a Correct Diagnosis
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 have any unusual discharge from your nipples, what color is it?
→ Don't know / I am pregnant or lactating
→ There is no discharge
→ White or almost white
→ Almost black
Based on your response to this question, which may indicate no nipple discharge, whitish nipple discharge, yellow-green nipple discharge or almost-black nipple discharge, The Analyst™
will consider possibilities such as:
Nipple discharge is usually harmless, and should not signify anything seriously wrong. Most women can squeeze some discharge out of their nipples, especially if they have had children in the past.
Male Breast Cancer
Nipple discharge, either bloody or serous, is distinctly abnormal in men and must always be taken seriously. Although it may very well turn out to be nothing, it should always be followed up with mammography and biopsy if any mammographic abnormality is found.