Cysts are not always bad news
I am45 years old, female and healthy. Recently I discovered a lump in my right breast. The doctor sent me for a mammogram and ultrasound, where the lump was diagnosed as a cyst. The fluid was drained and analysed; no cancer was found. I was told further harmless cysts could develop. AmI at increased risk of breast cancer because of these cysts?
The consensus among Australian breast cancer experts is that simple breast cysts do not become cancerous and do not increase your risk of developing breast cancer in the future. In fact breast cysts are very common in women aged 35 to 50, with most going unnoticed because they are small. It is not known why some women are more susceptible to cysts than others, but hormones are believed to play a part. Cysts also commonly occur in older women taking hormone replacement therapy. Usually the cysts disappear after menopause, but in some women they persist throughout their lives. There is a rare condition known as intracystic cancer where a cancer develops inside a cyst, but this will look different on ultrasound. While it is probably reassuring for you to know that if you get another breast lump it is more likely to a benign cyst, do not delay getting the lump investigated — just in case it’s not. My new little grand-daughter has just been diagnosed with congenital dislocation of the hip at her six-week check-up. She now has to wear a splint to keep the hip in place. Will she have any long-term consequences because of this hip problem? And how likely is it that any future brothers or sisters will also be affected? Congenital dislocation of the hip — or developmental dysplasia of the hip, as it now called) — can almost always be successfully treated, especially when the condition is detected at such an early age. It is caused by the socket part of the ball-and-socket hip joint being abnormally shallow. This allows the ball part of the hip (at the top of the femur) to slip out of joint. The harness your grand-daughter is required to wear will ensure the joint stays in position until her bones mature and the hip stabilises. This will usually take between six and 12 weeks. For the vast majority of children this will be all the treatment they require and they will go on to have normal, active lives without any detectable disability. Very rarely, some children will develop arthritis in that hip as adults. Future siblings will be at increased risk as the condition does tend to run in families, and girls are much more likely to be affected than boys. You will probably find all future children in that family will undergo an ultrasound of their hips at six weeks of age. I ama 20-year-old, previously healthy male. Two years ago I developed an itchy skin rash all over my body, which the specialist said was dermatographism. I take an antihistamine every day to keep it under control. Will I have to do this the rest of my life? You are unlucky, as most people with this condition are far less affected than you appear to be. Dermatographism, the condition where stroking or slight scratching of the skin causes itchy weals to develop, usually at the site of contact, is generally considered a variation of hives. It is very possible that the condition will become less severe with time, but you will probably always have the tendency to have a skin reaction of some sort to certain triggers. It might be worthwhile getting checked to determine which stimuli cause the greatest reaction so you can try and avoid them. Linda Calabresi is a Sydney GP and executive editor of www.6minutes.com.au, a news service for Australian doctors. Send your queries to firstname.lastname@example.org