Fibroadenoma (patient information)
Fibroadenoma On the Web
Fibroadenoma is a very common benign breast mass. It can be seen in women of any age but it is mostly seen in adolescents and premenopausal women. It is mostly due to multiplication of some cells (connective tissue cells) around the breast tissue. A fibroadenoma is usually round to oval in shape, about 2 to 3 cm in size, and has a rubbery feel. It is mostly painless and moves around under the skin when touched/examined. A fibroadenoma commonly would reduce in size and disappear but, in some cases it may increase in size or remain unchanged. If it grows past 5cm, it becomes a giant fibroadenoma. Fibroadenoma is said to be associated with an increased sensitivity of the breast tissue to estrogen. With this, it can increase in size during pregnancy or in those on hormone therapy. Because of the decrease in estrogen during menopause, it can get smaller in postmenopausal women. It usually presents as a single lump in the breast but in a few patients, it can present as multiple lumps in one or both breasts.
What are the symptoms of fibroadenoma?
Most people with fibroadenoma do not present with any symptoms. Majority of the time, people visit their health care provider due to a mass felt in the breast. But, some patients may present with breast pain and may notice a difference in the size of one breast compared to the other.
What causes fibroadenoma?
Who is at highest risk?
- Certain factors can predispose to the development of fibroadenoma. They include:
In order for a physician to make proper diagnosis of fibroadenoma, a physical examination of the breast mass must be done. Some of the signs that may be seen include:
- A firm mass about 2 to 3 cm in size (can range from less than 1cm to greater than 10cm)
- Multiple masses in a few cases
- The mass is usually rubbery and can move around.
- Difference in the size of one breast compared to the other.
Tests may include:
- Ultrasound: After performing a physical examination, an ultrasound may be done to have a better view of the mass. It is commonly used in adolescents. Depending on the findings seen and the symptoms a patient presents with, the health care provider can decide to stop here or do more tests. If more tests aren't needed, serial ultrasounds may be needed to check for changes in the mass.
- Mammogram: A mammogram can also be used as an imaging study in the diagnosis of fibroadenoma. It is not recommended to be used in women under the age of 30.
- Needle Aspiration: In certain situations, your health care provider may need to use a needle to make a biopsy of the breast mass. This is done in cases of a mass that's growing rapidly, patient anxiety about the mass despite reassurance, intense pain, cosmetic issues, and more.
When to seek urgent medical care?
- If you notice any changes in size of the breast mass, pain or change in the pain pattern, you should contact your health care provider.
- Because most fibroadenomas are expected to resolve overtime, they are managed conservatively with follow up that includes yearly breast examination and ultrasound if necessary. Those that do not completely resolve or do not change after the age of 35 are usually removed via surgery.
- It is important to follow the advise of your health care provider regarding the management of fibroadenoma
- So far, there are no studies to show the ways of preventing fibroadenoma.
What to expect (Outlook/Prognosis)?
- The outcome of fibroadenoma is excellent with the survival rate being equal to that of the general population.
- Most fibroadenomas resolve completely. This is very common in the adolescent population.
- There is a slight chance of developing breast cancer.
- The probability of developing a life-threatening complication is very low.