A fairly common benign breast condition is referred to as fibroadenomas. Fibroadenomas are benign tumors made up of both glandular breast tissue and supporting, or stromal, tissue. Fibroadenomas are found in women of all ages, but are most commonly found in younger women under the age of 30.
Like cysts, fibroadenomas are sometimes too small to feel and can only be seen by examining breast tissue under a microscope. Other fibroadenomas can grow to several inches in diameter. They usually are round and have edges that are distinct from the surrounding breast tissue. For this reason, a fibroadenoma can feel like a marble. In some cases, a woman might have more than one fibroadenoma at the same time.
Fibroadenomas are usually diagnosed using fine needle aspiration or conducting a core needle biopsy. Providers often recommend the removal of fibroadenomas, especially when they continue to grow or if they cause pain or change the shape of the woman’s breast. Fibroadenomas can also be destroyed without being removed. Cryoablation destroys the lump by freezing it. Radiofrequency ablation uses high-frequency energy waves to heat the lump and destroy it without affecting nearby tissues.
In other cases, fibroadenomas can stop growing or shrink on their own. When the provider is sure the tumor is a fibroadenoma and not breast cancer, the fibroadenoma may not be removed or destroyed.
It is particularly important for women who do not have fibroadenomas removed or destroyed to have regular breast exams to confirm that the tumor is not growing. Women with a fibroadenoma have a slightly higher risk of developing breast cancer later in life.