Fibroadenomas: Myths & Misconceptions
Finding a lump in your breast is almost always a startling discovery. And when a lump turns out to be a fibroadenoma, it's not uncommon for people to have misconceptions about what it means to have one.
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.
Here, we look at five common myths about fibroadenomas and discuss the actual facts to refute them.
Myth: Only older women get fibroadenomas.
Reality: In reality, fibroadenomas are most common among women ages 15 to 35. According to the Westmead Breast Cancer Institute, fibroadenomas have been reported in up to 9 percent of the female population, and just fewer than 5 percent of all fibroadenomas are found in women older than 50. Researchers have found that fibroadenomas can be influenced by hormonal changes, so they sometimes appear in postmenopausal women who are taking hormone replacements.
Myth: Fibroadenomas always require surgical removal.
Reality: Getting treatment for a fibroadenoma is not always necessary if it doesn't cause symptoms and appears relatively stable. A biopsy or surgical removal is usually only required if the fibroadenoma causes symptoms or changes in size, shape or texture. If you have a fibroadenoma, you should talk to your doctor about whether treatment is necessary or if watchful monitoring is a sufficient path forward.
Myth: Once it is removed or disappears, a fibroadenoma won't come back.
Reality: In many cases, a fibroadenoma that doesn't require biopsy or surgical removal will eventually disappear on its own. However, it's not unheard of for a fibroadenoma to go away for a period of time before another one appears later. Remember that anytime you find a new lump in your breast, even if it's painless and likely a fibroadenoma, it's important to let your doctor know, so it can be properly examined and monitored.
Myth: A fibroadenoma is a sign of breast cancer.
Reality: Fibroadenomas are not cancerous, nor do they put you at a significantly higher risk for developing breast cancer. However, since fibroadenomas do contain some normal breast-tissue cells, there is always a chance they could eventually develop into cancer. However, your risk of developing cancer inside a fibroadenoma is not higher than your existing risk for developing breast cancer in your normal breast tissue, according to data.
Myth: Fibroadenomas don't change in size over time.
Reality: According to the Mayo Clinic, a fibroadenoma can grow larger or shrink and disappear on its own over time. Such fluctuation is largely due to fibroadenomas being sensitive to hormonal change. In fact, you may even notice slight variations in the size of a fibroadenoma throughout the course of your menstrual cycle as your hormone levels fluctuate. While some variation in size is normal, you should not hesitate to consult your doctor if you notice any changes in your fibroadenoma.