Questions and answers
Fibroadenomas are the most common benign changes in the female breast. Even though the diagnosis is no reason for concern at the time, many women still ask several questions about these benign lumps.
What is a fibroadenoma?
First of all, you can put your mind at rest: A fibroadenoma can be irritating under certain circumstances, but is just a benign lump in the female breast. During palpation of the breast, you can feel that this lump is freely movable (see also Self investigation).
A fibroadenoma is typically firm and smooth, and has a definite margin. The size can vary greatly – anything is possible, from less than 1 cm to over 15 cm in diameter.
How common are fibroadenomas?
How do I recognise a fibroadenoma?
Pain is rare with fibroadenomas: even when you press on them, most lumps do not hurt. If pain does occur, this is no cause for concern. A fibroadenoma can be palpable or even sensitive to pain, depending on its size and position in the breast. This particularly applies to the time before the period when the breast swells.
If the fibroadenoma is already very big, sensitivity and a feeling of tension in the breast are often more marked. It may also happen that the lump deforms the breast because the skin bulges outward at this point.
How does a gynaecologist recognise a fibroadenoma?
How fast does a fibroadenoma grow?
Must a fibroadenoma be treated?
How is a fibroadenoma treated?
The alternative is to treat the fibroadenoma using echotherapy. During this non-invasive technique, the lump is treated with ultrasound. The treatment occurs on an outpatient basis under local anaesthetic. No scars are left behind. (See also What is echotherapy?)
Is a fibroadenoma really not dangerous?
 Buzanowski-Konaky K, Harrison EG Jr, Payne WS: Lobular carcinoma arising in fibroadenoma of the breast. Cancer 1975; 35(2):450-456.
 Dupont WT, Page DL, Parl FF, Vnencak-Jones CL et al.: Long-term risk of breast cancer in women with fibroadenoma. N Engl J Med 1994; 331:10-15.
 Sklair-Levy M, Sella T, Alweiss T et al.: Incidence and management of complex fibroadenomas. AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2008; 190(1):214-18.
 Worsham MJ, Raju U, Lu M et al.: Risk factors for breast cancer from benign breast disease in a diverse population. Breast Cancer Res. Treat. 2009; 118(1):1-7.