What Happens After You Find a Fibroadenoma
A fibroadenoma is a solid, noncancerous breast lump that is most commonly found in women ages 15 to 35.
Fibroadenomas typically have a well-defined shape and can feel hard, smooth, firm or even rubbery to the touch. In most cases, fibroadenomas cause no pain and can be easily moved around beneath the skin when touched. According to the Mayo Clinic, fibroadenomas vary in size; they can get bigger over time, or shrink and disappear on their own.
Treatment for a fibroadenoma may not be necessary if it doesn’t cause any symptoms and appears relatively stable. However, if a fibroadenoma causes symptoms or changes in size, shape or texture, a doctor might recommend a biopsy or surgical removal.
Evaluating a potential fibroadenoma
If your doctor finds any lumps in your breast during a clinical breast exam, you will most likely undergo additional tests or procedures to evaluate them. However, depending on your age and the characteristics of the lump, these steps may not be necessary.
A breast lump can be further evaluated through the use of a diagnostic mammogram or with a breast ultrasound. (Doctors typically recommend only a breast ultrasound in women who are younger than 30.) These tests can help your doctor determine whether or not the lump seems to be a solid mass—a fibroadenoma—or a fluid-filled cyst. If further evaluation is needed, a biopsy may be performed to test the suspicious breast tissue.
If additional evaluations show the lump is, in fact, a fibroadenoma with no additional abnormalities, then surgery may not be necessary.
If surgical removal is an option, even just for peace of mind, some women may still opt not to get it due to unwanted effects. For example, a fibroadenoma removal can potentially change the shape or texture of the breast, and will leave scarring. In addition, there’s always a chance the fibroadenoma may disappear on its own.
It is important to note, however, that women who do not get a fibroadenoma removed should maintain consistent monitoring with their doctor. Additional ultrasounds during follow-up visits can help detect any changes in the fibroadenoma and alert your doctor of any signs that may lead to the need for removal.
Whether you decide to get surgery to remove your fibroadenoma or not, it’s essential to continue monitoring your breasts.
Your doctor might recommend surgery to have the fibroadenoma removed if your breast exam, imaging test or biopsy show any abnormalities. Surgery may also be recommended in cases in which the fibroadenoma is quite large, changes in size or causes other symptoms.
Doctors have the choice of two different procedures to remove a fibroadenoma: a lumpectomy or a cryoablation. A lumpectomy, or excisional biopsy, is used to remove any suspicious breast tissue to be sent off to a laboratory for cancer testing. Cryoablation involves the insertion of a wand-like device called a cryoprobe through the skin to the fibroadenoma. The cryoprobe then releases a gas, which is used to destroy the tissue by freezing it.
Whether you decide to get surgery to remove your fibroadenoma or not, it’s essential to continue monitoring your breasts. If an existing fibroadenoma changes in size, shape or texture, or if new lumps appear, be sure to consult with your doctor right away.