Breast Disease Fibroadenoma

Fibroadenoma is a type of benign breast growth that can develop in women of reproductive age. Fibroadenomas are the most common type of benign breast tumor in young women.

What is a Fibroadenoma?

FibroadenomaA fibroadenoma develops when tissue grows over a lobule (milk-producing gland), forming a solid lump. A fibroadenoma is made up of both glandular (lobular) tissue and connective (stromal) tissue. Fibroadenomas are sphere-shaped, with a smoother surface than most malignant breast tumors. It’s not uncommon for women to have more than one fibroadenoma. Typically, they range from one to three centimeters in size, but they can grow to be larger. Fibroadenomas that are five centimeters (two inches) or larger are called “giant fibroadenomas.” Fibroadenomas that develop in teenagers are called “juvenile fibroadenomas.”

Fibroadenoma Breast Disease: Causes and Symptoms

Scientists are not certain what causes fibroadenomas. However, they believe that estrogen sensitivity may play a role, because fibroadenomas develop during a woman’s reproductive years and can increase in size during menstruation or pregnancy. They also tend to shrink after menopause.

Fibroadenomas have a smooth, rubbery texture and can move easily under the skin. Fibroadenoma growths are usually painless, but the size and location of the growth can cause breast tenderness or pain.

How is Fibroadenoma Breast Disease Diagnosed?

A fibroadenoma diagnosis begins with a physical examination, after which a mammogram (breast X-ray) or breast ultrasound may be necessary. Ultimately, a biopsy sample is the only definitive diagnostic method for fibroadenoma. Biopsy samples may be gathered by surgical incision or though fine needle aspiration. During a fine needle aspiration, a long thin needle is inserted into the fibroadenoma mass to retrieve cell samples. Young women in their teens to mid-twenties may not require a biopsy if the lump goes away on its own.

Fibroadenoma Treatment

Because they are benign, fibroadenomas are not always removed from the breast. If left, the mass will be monitored over time to make sure it doesn’t grow too large. The tumor can also be treated with “cryoablation,” a non-surgical process that involves using extreme cold to freeze and destroy the tumor. If the fibroadenoma is large, is causing discomfort or the patient is anxious about the lump, it may be surgically removed under a local anesthetic. Even if it is removed, however, more fibroadenomas may develop.

Can Fibroadenoma Breast Disease Become Breast Cancer?

Some types of fibroadenomas slightly increase your risk of breast cancer. Most types of fibroadenomas are classified as simple, but some types of fibroadenomas are complex, meaning they contain small bits of calcium (calcifications), cysts or enlarged lobules. Complex fibroadenomas do not turn into cancer, but they are associated with a slightly higher risk of developing breast cancer.

Resources

Breast Cancer Care. (2009). Fibroadenoma. Retrieved November 16, 2010, from http://www.breastcancercare.org.uk/breast-cancer-breast-health/diagnosis/benign/fibroadenoma/

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2009). Fibroadenoma. Retrieved November 16, 2010, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/fibroadenoma/DS01069

U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2009). Fibroadenoma – breast. Retrieved November 16, 2010, from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/007216.htm