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Breast fibroadenoma

Fibroadenoma is a benign breast noncancerous tumor. Breast fibroadenoma is a breast slow growth that most commonly presents in teenage girls and women under the age of thirty. The incidence of having breast fibroadenoma decreases with the increasing age. The presence of a fibroadenoma mass inside of breast tissues often causes women anxiety and concern, partly because people equate any type of breast lump with cancer. Breast fibroadenoma carries a very slight risk for future breast cancer, but the majority of fibroadenoma are benign breast growths.

Breast fibroadenoma is the most common benign tumor of the breast and the most common breast tumor in women under age 30. Breast fibroadenomas are usually found as single lumps, but about 10 – 15% of women have several lumps that may affect both breasts.

Some women call breast fibroadenoma as “running mousea” because while explaining their complaints they say that the tumour in the breast tends to run away from their fingers while examining it.

Very often breast fibroadenoma can be discovered during mammography. In the mammogram the breast fibroadenoma is visible as glandular and fibrous breast tissue, which can be single (alone) or in a group (multiple). If multiple/complex breast fibroadenoma is discovered then it could have the risk to convert into breast cancer later.

It is noted that black women tend to develop breast fibroadenoma more often and at an earlier age than white women.

Breast fibroadenoma causes

Breast fibroadenoma

The cause of breast fibroadenoma is not clearly known. Estrogen sensitivity is thought to play a role in breast fibroadenoma growth: some tumors may increase in size towards the end of the menstruation or during pregnancy. After menopause, many breast fibroadenomas spontaneously shrink due to lower estrogen levels. Hormone therapy for postmenopausal women may prevent breast fibroadenoma from shrinking.

Breast fibroadenoma symptoms

Fibroadenoma of the breast is the most commonly diagnosed benign breast tumor in young women. Fibroadenoma in the breast tends to be sphere shaped, with a smoother surface than most malignant breast cancers. While malignant tumors tend to be immobile, breast fibroadenoma growths move easily within the breast.

Fibroadenoma in the breast growths are usually painless, but size and location of the growth can cause breast tenderness or pain – it feels slightly malleable or rubbery to the touch when examined. While younger women tend to have clearly defined fibroadenoma growths, older women may present with breast calcification rather than masses.

Fibroadenoma is usually isolated breast mass. Sometimes (10-15% cases) fibroadenoma in the breast can be multiple and can be discovered in both breasts.

Benign breasts fibroadenoma should have smooth, well-defined borders and could grow in size, especially during pregnancy. Fibroadenoma in the breast often get smaller after menopause (if a woman is not taking hormone replacement therapy).

All breast fibroadenoma are composed of glandular cells and fibroconnective, or stromal, cells. The majority of fibroadenoma grow no larger than 1-3 cm, but some may grow to over 5cm, or two inches, in length. These unusually large growths are referred to as giant fibroadenoma. Fibroadenomas found in teenagers are often referred to as juvenile fibroadenomas.

Breast fibroadenoma diagnosis

First and most important method for fibroadenoma discovery is breast exam (made by health provider) or breast self-exam (made by woman). Fibroadenoma in the breast is felt as a firm, round, rubbery and movable swelling. Being mobile, it tends to run away while examining. The swelling could also increase in size during the menstrual cycle and in pregnancy because of hormonal changes taking place in the body. The size of fibroadenoma ranges from small (1-5 cm) to giant (about 15 cm). No enlargement of axillary lymph nodes is seen.

After careful breast examination, one or both of the following tests are usually done to determine further information:

  • Breast ultrasound
  • Mammogram

In a mammogram, it appears as a round or oval, smooth edged mass having a clear outline. Sometimes it may have course calcifications that look like a cyst.

The biopsy is the only sure way to confirm fibroadenoma in the breast – biopsy is needed to get a definite diagnosis. Core needle biopsy is most often performed. For more information on the different types of breast biopsies see:

  • Breast biopsy – sterotactic
  • Breast biopsy – ultrasound (core needle)
  • Breast biopsy – open

Fine needle biopsies, coarse needle biopsy, MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) are some of the ways to diagnose the fibroadenoma in the breast.

While biopsy is the only sure way to confirm fibroadenoma, young women in their teens to mid twenties may not require a biopsy if the lump meets all the requirements for a characteristic fibroid mass.

Check breast fibroadenoma treatment and prognosis on next page.

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