- Non-cancerous Breast Conditions
- What is normal breast tissue and what does it do?
- Finding benign breast conditions
- American Cancer Society recommendations for early breast cancer detection
- Diagnosing benign breast changes
- Imaging tests for breast disease
- Nipple discharge exam (nipple smear)
- Types of non-cancerous breast conditions
- Fibrosis and simple cysts
- Lobular carcinoma in situ
- Phyllodes tumors
- Intraductal papillomas
- Granular cell tumors
- Fat necrosis and oil cysts
- Duct ectasia
- Other benign breast conditions
- How benign breast conditions affect breast cancer risk
- For women at increased breast cancer risk
- Additional resources
Nipple discharge exam (nipple smear)
If fluid is coming from your nipple and staining sheets or underwear, some of the fluid may be collected and looked at under a microscope to see if any cancer cells are in it.
Most nipple discharges or secretions are not cancer. In most cases, if the fluid looks clear, green, or milky, cancer is very unlikely. If the discharge is red or red-brown, suggesting that it contains blood, it might be caused by cancer. But it is more likely caused by an injury, infection, or benign tumor.
This test may not be very helpful because even when no cancer cells are found in a nipple discharge, it doesn’t mean for certain that a breast cancer is not there. If there is a suspicious mass, a biopsy is needed, even if the nipple discharge does not contain cancer cells.
Last Medical Review: 08/24/2012
Last Revised: 08/24/2012