02 December 2008

Fibroadenoma - treatment and diagnosis

How does a doctor diagnose a fibroadenoma, what is the treatment and what usually happens to these lumps?

Fibroadenoma usually occur as a painless lump in young women. They are uncommon after the age of 40. They rarely get larger than 2 cm and tend to get smaller over time. They do not become cancerous. It is very important to make sure a lump is definitely a fibroadenoma.

How do you diagnosis a fibroadenoma?

Diagnosis is based on the ‘triple test’

The triple test is:

  • The clinical assessment: a fibroadenoma usually feels very mobile but is firm. It can be freely moved over the muscle and can be moved under the skin. It is not usually painful but may be slightly tender if it is pushed hard.
  • The imaging of the lump. Ultrasound of the breast is often better than mammography in young women as the breasts are denser so are not able to be compressed as easily as in an older women. The appearance of a fibroadenoma on ultrasound is that of a solid lump with a regular outline. Mammogram may show a dense mass that is smooth in outline.
  • Assessment of the cells or tissue: there is a typical appearance of a fibroadenoma under the microscope.

If all of the tests above suggest that the lump is a fibroadenoma and not a cancer, then it is likely to be that. If even one of the tests suggests that it is a cancerous lump then the lump should be removed.

What is the treatment for fibroadenoma?

If the doctor is certain of the diagnosis, it is safe to leave the lump.

If the lump ever gets bigger, you should go back to your doctor and consider having the lump removed even if all the tests say it is not a cancer.

What is the normal course of fibroadenomas?

They usually get smaller with time. If at any time they don’t, a medical opinion must be sought.


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