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Disease: Fibroadenoma Fibroadenoma
Category: Tumors

Disease Definition:

A fibroadenoma is a solid, noncancerous tumor, which usually occurs in women during their reproductive years. A fibroadenoma, is a firm, smooth, rubbery or hard lump with a well-defined shape that is painless and moves easily under the skin when touched. Fibroadenomas are usually common among women in their 20s and 30s.


In premenopausal women, fibroadenomas are one of the most common breast lumps. Fibroadenomas, which usually range in size from less than 1 centimeter to several centimeters in diameter, could get bigger during breast-feeding and pregnancy.


In order to detect changes in the size or feel of the fibroadenoma, treatment may include careful monitoring or surgery in order to remove it.

Work Group:

Symptoms, Causes


Usually, fibroadenomas are solid breast lumps or masses that are:


  • Firm or rubbery
  • Easily moved
  • Painless
  • Round with distinct borders


When someone presses on a fibroadenoma, it could feel like a marble within the breast. A woman could have either one or many of them. Although fibroadenomas could grow quite large, however, they usually grow to about 1 to 2 centimeters. A giant fibroadenoma is when a fibroadenoma measures five centimeters or larger.


In healthy women, normal breast tissue feels lumpy or nodular. The doctor should be visited for an evaluation in case a woman detects the presence of any new breast lumps, or in case a previously evaluated breast lump seems to have changed or grown.


There are 15 to 20 lobes of glandular tissue in each of a woman's breasts, which are arranged like the petals of a daisy. These lobes are further divided into smaller lobules that produce milk during breast-feeding and pregnancy. The milk is conducted by small ducts to a reservoir which lies beneath the nipple. A deeper layer of connective tissue called stroma supports this network. Both glandular (lobular) tissue and connective (stromal) tissue make up fibroadenomas.


Although it is thought that the development of fibroadenoma is related to reproductive hormones, however, its actual cause is still not known.


During a woman's reproductive years, fibroadenomas occur in greater frequency, tend to shrink after menopause and can increase in size during pregnancy or with estrogen therapy.



With some types of fibroadenomas, the risk of breast cancer increases.



Most fibroadenomas have distinct borders and uniform-looking cells. These fibroadenomas are simple and don’t increase a woman's risk of breast cancer, particularly if she has no family history of breast cancer.



Complex fibroadenomas do not turn into breast cancer; however, they increase a woman's risk of developing breast cancer later by a factor of about 2 to 3. Still, her overall risk of developing breast cancer after being diagnosed with a complex fibroadenoma remains low. These complex fibroadenomas contain cysts, enlarged breast lobules (adenosis) or calcifications, which are bits of dense, opaque tissue.



Once it’s identified, a fibroadenoma can continue to grow and may even change the shape of a woman's breast. In case one of the tests, including the clinical breast exam, a biopsy or an imaging test is abnormal, she may be recommended surgery in order to remove the fibroadenoma. In case leaving the fibroadenoma in place makes the woman anxious, she may also consider surgical removal.


A lumpectomy or excisional biopsy is what the procedure to remove a fibroadenoma is called. This procedure could be performed by using local or general anesthesia. In this procedure, an incision is made in the breast and the breast lump is removed along with some surrounding tissue. Then, the tissue sample is sent to a lab for analysis in order to conform that the breast lump is not breast cancer, but a fibroadenoma.


After a fibroadenoma is removed, it is quite possible that one or more new fibroadenomas might develop and in order to remove these new fibroadenomas, yet another surgery may be needed.



Surgery may be unnecessary in case the doctor is reasonably certain that a woman's breast lump is not breast cancer, but a fibroadenoma, based on the results of the clinical breast exam, biopsy or imaging tests.


Surgery to remove the breast mass could distort the shape and texture of the breast and leave scar tissue that complicates future breast exams, particularly in young women, who most commonly develop fibroadenomas. However, in women past their 30s, fibroadenomas could shrink on their own or stop growing.


Continued monitoring is quite important in case a woman chooses not to have her fibroadenoma removed, in order to make sure that it doesn’t grow larger. However, she could reconsider surgery at any time that she becomes overly anxious about the fibroadenoma.


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