Another common non-malignant
lump is the fibroadenoma. This is a smooth, round, hard lump, which feels like a marble. It is a solid, rubbery mass most
common in women in their 20's and 30's.
The appearance on ultrasound
is very distinct-- with smooth egdes and a homogenous (even) pattern within the mass.
It moves around easily within
the breast tissue. It is often found near the nipple, but can grow anywhere in the breast. A doctor can usually tell simply
by feeling the lump that it's a fibroadenoma and to be certain the doctor can collect a few cells through a fine
needle aspiration, a core biopsy or an incisional or excisional biopsy and send them off to the lab.
In most cases, a woman has only
one fibroadenoma; it's removed, and she never gets another. But we also have patients who are "repeat offenders." They are
more common in African-American women than in Caucasian women.
Teenagers are both more prone
to fibroadenomas and less likely to get breast cancer than are older women, so we do not remove fibroadenomas in teens.
In women who are middle -aged
or older, we tend to remove all fibroadenomas to be sure they're not cancer.
Fibroadenomas in no way predispose
you to cancer. They're a nuisance, and they can scare you into thinking you might have cancer -- but that's the worst thing
The cause is not known; however,
some research suggests that increased fat consumption may play a role. The highest incidence is in women from the teen years
into the 20s. Fibroadenomas rarely develop after the age of 30. Single or multiple fibroadenomas may develop in one or both
breasts. Most will get smaller with time, but approximately 1/3 will grow.