What is Fibroadenoma?
Breast tissue is made up of lobules (milk producing glands) and ducts (tubes that carry milk to the nipple), which are surrounded by glandular, fibrous and fatty tissue. Fibroadenoma develop from a lobule. The glandular tissue and ducts grow over the lobule, forming a solid lump. Fibroadenoma are non-cancerous lumps in the breast and they do not increase the risk of developing breast cancer.
How do they occur?
They develop due to increased sensitivity to the female hormone, oestrogen. Hence it is commonly found in the adolescent age groups and young adults, although they can occur in women of any age group. Fibroadenomas are common and it is not unusual to be present in both breasts and to have multiple lumps in each breast as well.
How are they detected?
Fibroadenomas can feel rubbery and hard to touch. Sometimes they feel tender or painful especially nearing the period. Some are too small to be detected on clinical examination and increasingly found on screening ultrasonography of the breasts.
What is the natural history of fibroadenomas?
Fibroadenomas can range in size from less than a centimeter to more than 3cm in diameter. Some can increase in size, especially in teenager; others will regress in size and disappear as well. They are also expected to get bigger in size during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
How are fibroadenomas diagnosed and what tests are done?
The doctor will organize breast imaging (ultrasonography and mammography) as necessary. A needle biopsy may be done in a clinic, where a sample of cells is taken from the lump. Sometimes a core biopsy may be done instead where a larger bore needle is used to obtain tissue samples of the lump: this gives more detailed information. These samples are then sent to the laboratory to be looked under the microscope. The result takes about 2 to 5 working days to return. A local anaesthetic will be given before either of the procedures.
FOLLOW-UP & TREATMENT
There is no medication to remove the fibroadenomas. Most fibroadenomas do not need to be removed unless they are increasing in size or you request to have it excised by minor surgery. Small fibroadenomas may be removed by vacuum-assisted excision, hence avoiding surgery if required. Your doctor will discuss the treatment options in detail with you.