Fibroadenomas are some of the most common non-cancerous breast lumps. They develop mostly in young premenopausal women between the ages of 15 and 35 years but can occur at any age. This breast condition can also occur in men, but it is very uncommon. Fibroadenoma account for about 10% of all breast conditions’ diagnosis.
There are 3 types of Fibroadenoma:
- Simple Fibroadenoma: When viewed under a microscope, simple fibroadenomas look the same all over. Additionally, they do not increase the likelihood of developing breast cancer.
- Complex Fibroadenoma: When the cells in a fibroadenoma have different features, then they are referred to as complex fibroadenomas. These pose a slight risk in developing breast cancer in future.
- Giant or Juvenile Fibroadenoma: Most fibroadenomas develop to between 1-3cm. When they grow to up to 5cm, then they become giant fibroadenomas. If found in teenagers, they are referred to as Juvenile fibroadenoma.
Causes of Fibroadenoma
It is widely unknown what actually causes fibroadenoma, but it is thought to be related to changing levels of hormone estrogen. This is because they are more common during puberty, pregnancy, and when one is undergoing hormone replacement therapy, and usually diminish or disappear after menopause. Fibroadenomas can occur in one or both breasts.
Common Symptoms of Fibroadenoma
Some of the most common symptoms of fibroadenoma include:
- A smooth lump on the breast that shifts easily
- Discomfort or even pain on the breast
- The lump might feel tender to the touch
- Round lump with distinct borders
- Painless lump
Diagnosis of Fibroadenomas
Fibroadenomas are usually first noticed as a lump in the breast, or during a routine breast exam or mammogram after which you’ll be referred to a breast specialist for further examination. Fibroadenomas are usually easy to diagnose in younger women through a range of tests. The assessment tests to diagnose the breast condition include:
- An ultrasound scan
- A core biopsy whereby a sample of the breast tissue is taken to be examined under a microscope.
- Fine Needle Aspiration (FNA): Here, a fine needle and syringe are used to take samples of the cells to be observed under a microscope.
Treatment of Fibroadenoma
If the test results come back positive for a fibroadenoma, treatment may not be required although the lump can go away by itself after a certain amount of time. Most of the fibroadenomas usually stay the same size, which is 2-3cm, or they grow smaller and finally disappear. Others can grow bigger, especially in girls going through puberty, while pregnant, and if you are taking hormone replacement therapy. But after this period, they can reduce in size and possibly eventually disappear.
There are two types of fibroadenoma treatment. These are:
If the fibroadenoma gets large and causes discomfort, becomes complex or juvenile, an operation known as an excision biopsy might be used to remove it. This is done under general anesthesia.
After the surgery to remove the fibroadenoma, the surgeon mostly uses dissolvable sutures, which will not need to be removed afterwards. If the non-dissolvable stitches are used, they’ll need to be removed after 7 – 10 days post-surgery.
2. Vacuum assisted (VAC/VAB) excision biopsy
Vacuum assisted excision biopsy, which you might be offered, involves a process of removing small fibroadenomas under local anesthesia, without having a full surgical procedure under general anesthesia.
During the procedure, a small cut is made on the skin on your breast whereby a probe, which is connected to a vacuum-like device is placed. The fibroadenoma is then suctioned by the vacuum through the hollow probe into a collecting chamber. The surgeon is usually guided by an ultrasound while performing the procedure. If you opt for this procedure, then surgery can be avoided.
Although vacuum assisted excision biopsy is considered minimally invasive, there might be bruising and some degree of discomfort after the procedure, which will last for a few days. This procedure might not affect the shape of the breast, but there might be a dent where the fibroadenoma was.
Do Fibroadenomas Increase the Risk of Breast Cancer?
Being diagnosed with a Fibroadenoma can make one feel uneasy thinking they are at a greater risk of developing breast cancer. Fortunately, Fibroadenomas do not increase the risks of developing breast cancer. On the other hand, if you are diagnosed with a complex Fibroadenoma the chances increase very slightly. But this is not a guarantee that you’ll develop breast cancer in the future. To stay breast aware, you should continue with the routine breast screening as usual, and if you are concerned about any changes that your breasts might have, it is recommended you visit your doctor at the earliest.
At King’s College Hospital London Dubai, our Breast Care Clinic caters to every type of breast cancer and breast conditions. If you are facing any kind of abnormal changes to your breast, regardless how small, get in touch for a consultation with one of our breast doctors. For more information on breast cancer and breast care, book an appointment below.