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Few things are as frightening for a woman as finding a lump in her breast. While some lumps may be cancerous, many lumps are benign. Noncancerous lumps include fluid-filled cysts, as well as solid lumps called fibroadenomas. A fibroadenoma is among the most common benign lumps that appear in the breast, accounting for 50 percent of all breast biopsies. And, these noncancerous breast lumps are the most common masses found in adolescents. (1, 2)
These lumps typically range from 2 to 3 centimeters in size; however, they can grow to greater than 10 centimeters and cause asymmetry in the breast or even hypertrophy, in some cases. While some women choose to have a lumpectomy for their peace of mind, most fibroadenomas do not require further treatment. But close monitoring is essential to know whether it changes in size or texture. (3)
If you notice changes in an existing lump or find a new lump during your monthly self-examination, schedule an appointment with your physician as quickly as possible. During your appointment, your doctor will explore your family history, perform a clinical breast examination, and then order a mammogram or an ultrasound if you have dense breast tissue. If the imaging tests show that the lump is solid, a biopsy may be necessary to determine the composition of the lump.
These lumps are broken into two categories in the United States: simple and complex. While any changes in the breast naturally cause concern and stress, a breast fibroadenoma only slightly increases your risk of developing breast cancer in the future and this condition should not be considered a cause of cancer. (4)
What Is a Fibroadenoma?
A fibroadenoma is a benign breast mass that often presents during adolescence, but can occur in women at any age. While considered very rare, men, too, can get these benign lumps. This type of mass develops from the glands in the breast, including the lobules and the ducts. Lobules and ducts are surrounded by fibrous, glandular, and fatty tissue. A fibroadenoma occurs when these glandular tissues and ducts grow over a lobule and form a solid lump. (5)
In the United States, two types of fibroadenomas are recognized, simple and complex. Both simple and complex lumps are small in size. They just have different physical characteristics. In other parts of the world, giant and juvenile are also recognized types. (6, 7)
Simple: Generally round, with distinct and smooth borders. If one is close to the surface, it should move easily and may feel rubbery or firm. They rarely cause discomfort or pain; however, monthly hormonal changes and menstruation cycles may cause slight but noticeable changes.
Complex: An irregularity, not size, is what determines if a lump falls into the simple or complex category. According to the Johns Hopkins Avon Foundation Breast Center, one of the following pathological features must be present to make it complex: cystic change, epithelial calcification, sclerosing adenosis, or papillary apocrine…
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