Learn about this common breast lump. It is not cancer. Unless you have symptoms that bother you, treatment might not be needed.
A fibroadenoma (fy-broe-ad-uh-NO-muh) is a solid breast lump. This breast lump is not cancer. A fibroadenoma happens most often between ages 15 and 35. But it can be found at any age in anyone who has periods.
A fibroadenoma often causes no pain. It can feel firm, smooth and rubbery. It has a round shape. It might feel like a pea in the breast. Or it may feel flat like a coin. When touched, it moves easily within the breast tissue.
Fibroadenomas are common breast lumps. If you have a fibroadenoma, your health care provider may tell you to watch for changes in its size or feel. You may need a biopsy to check the lump or surgery to remove it. Many fibroadenomas need no further treatment.
A fibroadenoma is a solid breast lump that often causes no pain. It is:
A fibroadenoma often grows slowly. The average size is about 1 inch (2.5 centimeters). A fibroadenoma can get bigger over time. It may be tender or cause soreness a few days before your period. A large fibroadenoma may hurt when you touch it. But most often, this type of breast lump causes no pain.
You can have a single fibroadenoma or more than one fibroadenoma. They can occur in one or both breasts.
Some fibroadenomas shrink over time. Most fibroadenomas in adolescents shrink over many months to a few years. They then disappear. Fibroadenomas may also change shape over time.
Fibroadenomas may get bigger during pregnancy. They might shrink after menopause.
Healthy breast tissue often feels lumpy. Make an appointment with your health care provider if you:
The cause of fibroadenomas is not known. They might be related to hormones that control your periods.
Less common types of fibroadenomas and related breast lumps may not act the same as typical fibroadenomas. These types of breast lumps include:
Common fibroadenomas do not affect your risk of breast cancer. But your risk might go up a bit if you have a complex fibroadenoma or a phyllodes tumor.
You might first notice a fibroadenoma when you bathe or shower. Or you may notice it while you do a breast self-exam. Fibroadenomas also may be found during a regular medical exam, a screening mammogram or a breast ultrasound.
If you have a breast lump that can be felt, you might need certain tests or procedures. Which tests you need depends on your age and the features of the breast lump.
Imaging tests give details about the size, shape and other features of a breast lump:
If there's any question about the type or nature of the breast lump, you may need a test called a biopsy to check a sample of the tissue. A common biopsy method for a fibroadenoma is a core needle biopsy.
A doctor called a radiologist usually performs a core needle biopsy. An ultrasound device helps the doctor guide the needle to the right spot. A special, hollow needle collects a tiny sample of breast tissue. A lab exam of the sample can reveal what kind of lump is present. A doctor called a pathologist reviews the sample to see if it is a fibroadenoma or phyllodes tumor.
If the breast lump is growing quickly, or causing pain or other problems, you may need to have the entire lump removed. This might also happen if the biopsy results are not clear. A surgeon will talk with you about your options.
A core needle biopsy uses a long, hollow tube to obtain a sample of tissue. Here, a biopsy of a suspicious breast lump is being done. The sample is sent to a lab for testing and evaluation by doctors, called pathologists. They specialize in analyzing blood and body tissue.
Often, fibroadenomas need no treatment. But, in some cases, you may need surgery to remove a fast-growing fibroadenoma.
If results of an imaging test and biopsy show that your breast lump is a fibroadenoma, you may not need surgery to remove it.
When deciding about surgery, keep these things in mind:
If you decide not to have surgery, your provider may advise follow-up visits to watch the fibroadenoma. At these visits, you may have an ultrasound to check for changes in the shape or size of the breast lump. In between visits, let your provider know if you notice any changes in your breasts.
If results from an imaging test or biopsy are concerning to your provider, you may need surgery. You may also need surgery if the fibroadenoma is large, grows quickly or causes symptoms. Surgery is the standard treatment for giant fibroadenomas and phyllodes tumors.
Procedures to remove a fibroadenoma include:
After treatment, other fibroadenomas can form. If you find a new breast lump, tell your health care provider. You may need testing with ultrasound, mammography or biopsy to see whether the new breast lump is a fibroadenoma or another breast condition.
You may first see your usual health care provider for concerns about a breast lump. Or you may go to a doctor who specializes in conditions that affect the female reproductive system. This doctor is a gynecologist. Here's what you need to know to get ready for your appointment.
When you make the appointment, ask whether you need to do anything before you arrive. For example, should you stop taking any medications in case you need a biopsy. Make a list of:
For a fibroadenoma, ask basic questions such as:
Be sure to ask other questions as you think of them. If you can, bring a family member or friend along to your appointment. That person may help you remember the information you're given.
Your health care provider is likely to ask you a number of questions, such as: