What does it mean when an ultrasound shows blood in a breast cyst? Is this likely cancer or more likely a benign finding?

What prompts women to have an ultrasound of their breasts in the first place, since ultrasound is not a standard screening tool for breast cancer?

• She or her doctor have discovered a palpable lump (i.e.. via fingertips), and the ultrasound is ordered for further investigation.

• She wants a supplemental ultrasound for breast cancer screening after learning that she has dense breast tissue.

• She wants the ultrasound for supplemental screening due to a genetically high risk of breast cancer.

The ultrasound can pick up a cyst in a breast. The patient may already know that when a mass is detected on an ultrasound, the technician will then run a test to see if the mass has a vascular network, since tumors do have their own vascular supply.

Absence of a blood supply to the mass is a reassuring sign. Hence, when the patient learns that there is actual blood in a cyst, this brings on fear.

How Likely Does Blood in a Breast Cyst Indicate Cancer?

“Not typically; usually breast cancer has a solid appearance on ultrasound, while cysts or hematomas have fluid or blood,” says Mark Levandovsky, MD, Founder and Medical Director of Preventive Medicine and Cancer Care. Dr. Levandovsky is a board certified internist and oncologist/hematologist in practice for over 17 years.

Dr. Levandovsky continues, “So seeing blood inside a cyst is more likely to be due to bleeding into the cyst than cancer.”

This is not the same as a blood supply TO the cyst (also known as angiogenesis).

Breast Cancer
• Speak to your doctor about the best screening protocol for your age and medical history.
• Yearly mammograms never replace monthly self-exams.
• A 3D mammogram (tomosynthesis) is more sensitive to detecting cancer than is a 2D mammogram, but a biopsy is always required for an official diagnosis.
• A cyst is not a forerunner to breast cancer.

Dr. Levandovsky provides personalized care to health conscious individuals as well as cancer patients and survivors, focusing on an integration of genetic/molecular risk assessments, prevention, education, nutrition and psycho-oncology.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.  

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