Fibroadenoma (non-cancer) is a very common benign tumor of the female breast and occur in 10 percent of all women, but in 20 percent of African-American women.While it may develop at any age, it is most frequent in the third decade. It is a discrete encapsulated, not tender and freely moveable tumor. They often feel like a marble within the breast. A woman can have one or many fibroadenomas. As the name implies, these tumors are composed of both fibrous (connective tissue) and glandular tissue. Some fibroadenomas are too small to be felt and can be seen only if breast tissue is removed and examined under a microscope.
The exact cause of fibroadenomas is unknown. They seem to be influenced by estrogen, because they appear most often in premenopausal or pregnant women, or in women who are postmenopausal and taking HRT (hormone replacement therapy). Breasts are made up of lobules (milk-producing glands) and ducts (tubes that carry milk to the nipple). These are surrounded by glandular, fibrous and fatty tissue. Fibroadenomas develop from a lobule. The glandular tissue and ducts grow over the lobule and form a solid lump.
Some fibroadenomas can be felt, but some are only found on an imaging test like a mammogram and ultrasound. A fine needle aspirasjon (FNA) or biopsy (removing tissue to be checked under a microscope) is needed to know if a tumor is a fibroadenoma.
Fibroadenomas are often easier to identify in younger women. If you’re in your early 20s or younger, your fibroadenoma may be diagnosed with a breast examination and ultrasound only. However, if there’s any uncertainty about the diagnosis, a core biopsy or FNA will be done.
This is a microscopic picture of a biopsy of a fibroadenoma. They are build up epithelial structures and fibrous tissue.
In rare cases the differential diagnosis between fibroadenoma and phyllodes tumor can be difficult. It is important that your biopsy is sent to a pathology laboratory with experience in mammary tumors.
Fibroadenomas often stop growing or even shrink on their own without any treatment. In these cases, doctors may recommend not having the tumors removed. Fibroadenoma surgery may involve removing a margin of surrounding breast tissue. The risk of surgery is that scarring could occur that could distort the shape and texture of the breast and make future physical examination and mammography more difficult to interpret. On the other hand, if fibroadenomas do not stop growing, they usually need to be surgically removed. Sometimes one or more new fibroadenomas will grow after one is removed.
For most women, having a fibroadenoma does not increase the risk of developing breast cancer.
It’s important to continue to be breast aware and go back to your doctor if you notice any changes in your breasts, regardless of how soon these occur after your diagnosis of a fibroadenoma.
Kjell H Kjellevold
A doctor and specialist in pathology. He has always been concerned about health and how to manage a good and healthy lifestyle. The blog will mainly be about the use of essential oils, health, and training.