Fibroadenoma of the breast is a benign tumor. Benign tumor means it is not caused by cancer.
The cause of fibroadenomas is not known. There may be a connection to a problem with genes.
Fibroadenoma is the most common benign tumor of the breast. It is the most common breast tumor in women under age 30.
A fibroadenoma is made up of breast gland tissue and tissue that helps support the breast gland tissue.
African American women tend to develop fibroadenomas more often and at an earlier age than Caucasian women.
Fibroadenomas are usually single lumps. About 10% to 15% of women have several lumps that may affect both breasts.
Lumps may be any of the following:
- Easily moveable under the skin
Lumps have smooth, well-defined borders. They may grow in size, especially during pregnancy. Fibroadenomas often get smaller after menopause (if a woman is not taking hormone therapy).
Exams and Tests
After a physical exam, one or both of the following tests are usually done:
A biopsy may be done to get a definite diagnosis. Different types of biopsies include:
Women in their teens or early 20s may not need a biopsy if the lump goes away on its own or if the lump does not change over a long period.
If a biopsy shows that the lump is a fibroadenoma, the lump may be left in place or removed.
You and your surgeon can discuss whether or not to remove the lump. Reasons to have it removed include:
- Abnormal biopsy results
- Pain or other symptoms
- Worry or concern about cancer
If the lump is not removed, your health care provider will watch to see if it changes or grows. This may be done using
- Physical examination
Sometimes, the lump is destroyed without removing it:
- Cryoablation destroys the lump by freezing it. A probe is inserted through the skin, and ultrasound helps the provider guide it to the lump. Gas is used freeze and destroy the lump.
- Radiofrequency ablation destroys the lump using high-frequency energy. The provider uses ultrasound or an MRI to help focus the energy beam on the lump. These waves heat the lump and destroy it without affecting nearby tissues.
Women with fibroadenoma have a slightly higher risk of breast cancer later in life.
If the lump is left in place and watched carefully, it may need to be removed at a later time if it changes or grows.
In very rare cases, the lump is cancer, and will need further treatment.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call your health care provider if you notice:
- Any new breast lumps
- A breast lump that your provider has checked before that grows or changes
- Bruising on your breast for no reason
- Dimpled or wrinkled skin (like an orange) on your breast
- Nipple changes or nipple discharge
Cox J, Toomey P, Tummel E, Gabordi R, Cox C. Ablative therapies in benign and malignant breast disease. In: Cameron JL, Cameron AM. Current Surgical Therapy. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 587.
Katz VL, Dotters D. Breast diseases: diagnosis and treatment of benign and malignant disease. In: Katz VL, Lentz GM, Lobo RA, Gershenson DM, eds. Comprehensive Gynecology. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2012:chap 15.
Mansel RE, Webster DJT, Sweetland LA, et al. Fibroadenoma and related tumors. In: Mansel RE, Webster DJT, Sweetland LA, et al. In: Hughes, Mansel & Webster's Benign Disorders and Diseases of the Breast. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2009:chap 7.
Update Date 11/26/2014
Updated by: Yi-Bin Chen, MD, Leukemia/Bone Marrow Transplant Program, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA. Editorial update: 06/12/2015. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.