One of the most common causes of bloody or sticky breast discharge is an intraductal papilloma, which is a small, wart-like growth that projects into breast ducts near the nipple. Any slight bump or bruise in the area of the nipple can cause the papilloma to bleed. Solitary intraductal papillomas usually affect women nearing menopause. Multiple intraductal papillomas, in contrast, are more common in younger women.

If the discharge becomes bothersome, the diseased duct can be removed surgically without damaging the appearance of the breast. Multiple intraductal papillomas or any papillomas associated with a lump need to be removed. It is important that any woman who notices a lump or change in her breast sees her HCP.