Noticing a lump in your breast can be quite a frightening experience, however, not all breast lumps and masses are cancerous. A type of benign noncancerous tumour is termed fibroadenoma. It is not a life-threatening condition and happens in one or both breasts.
A fibroadenoma is a solid breast lump that can feel firm, smooth, and rubbery. It has a round shape and may feel like a pea in the breast. The lump moves easily within the breast tissue when touched. It occurs most commonly in young women between ages 15 and 35 but can also be found at any age in women during the reproductive age.
If you observe any breast lump talk to your health care provider and look out for any changes in its size or feel. Most fibroadenomas need no further treatment, but a few may need surgery to remove them.
Signs And Symptoms
A fibroadenoma is a solid lump that often causes no pain in the breast. It is:
- Round with definite, smooth borders
- Easily moved
- Firm or rubbery
A fibroadenoma grows slowly and an average size is 2. 5cm. Generally, a fibroadenoma can increase in size over time and may be tender or cause soreness a few days before the menstrual cycle. You may have a single or more than one fibroadenoma and it can occur in one or both breasts. Some fibroadenomas shrink over the period and most lumps in adolescents shrink over months to a few years and then disappear. Further, it may also change shape and may get much bigger during pregnancy and shrink after menopause.
The exact cause of fibroadenomas is not clear. But may be related to hormones that regulate the menstrual cycle.
Types Of Breast Lumps Include:
Simple fibroadenoma doesn’t increase the risk of breast cancer and looks the same all over when observed under a microscope.
Complex fibroadenomas contain other elements like microcysts, and fluid-filled sacs which are large enough to feel and see without the help of a microscope. They also contain calcium deposits. Also, they can mildly increase the risk of breast cancer.
Giant fibroadenomas grow rapidly to larger than 5 cm and can press on nearby breast tissue.
Phyllodes tumours and fibroadenomas are made of similar tissues. However, under a microscope, phyllodes tumours look different from fibroadenomas and typically have characteristics linked with growing faster. Most phyllodes tumours are benign (not cancer, but some may be cancerous or could become cancerous.
The healthcare provider will completely examine the patient and the breasts will be manually palpated. A breast ultrasound or mammogram imaging test may also be done.
A breast ultrasound is an imaging test where a handled device called a transducer is moved over the skin of the breast, which produces a picture on a screen.
A mammogram is an X-ray of the breast taken while the breast is compressed between two flat regions.
A biopsy or fine needle aspiration is performed to remove tissue for testing that involves inserting a needle into the breast and removing a small piece of the tumour. The tissue is then sent to a lab for microscopic examination to find out the type of fibroadenomas and if it’s cancerous.
The healthcare provider may advise follow-up review to closely evaluate with clinical breast examinations and imaging tests for fibroadenomas that don’t grow and are not cancerous.
The decision to have a fibroadenoma surgically removed depends on the following criteria:
- If it affects the shape of the breast
- If it grows quickly
- Causes pain
- Risk of developing cancer
- Strong family history of cancer
- Biopsy results are not favourable
Surgery is the standard treatment plan for giant fibroadenomas and phyllodes tumours.
Procedures to remove a fibroadenoma include:
Cutting It Out: A surgeon uses a knife to remove the entire fibroadenoma, this is known as surgical excision.
Freezing It: A thin device like a wand is inserted via the skin of the breast to the fibroadenoma, where the device gets very chilled and freezes the tissues. This procedure helps to destroy fibroadenomas.
However, post-treatment other fibroadenomas are formed. If you observe a new breast lump, inform your health care provider and get tested with ultrasound, mammography or biopsy to check out whether the new breast lump is a fibroadenoma or another breast condition.