General Practice 2022

Fibroadenoma: what é and relação with câbreast cancer

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Fibroadenoma: what é and relação with câbreast cancer
Fibroadenoma: what é and relação with câbreast cancer

Fibroadenoma is a very common benign tumor that usually appears in women under 30 years of age as a hard lump in the breast, which does not cause pain or discomfort, and is similar to a marble.

Generally, breast fibroadenoma is up to 3 cm and is easily identified during menstruation or pregnancy due to increased production of hormones that increase its size.

Fibroadenoma of the breast does not turn into cancer, but depending on the type, it may slightly increase the chances of developing breast cancer in the future.

Fibroadenoma symptoms

The main sign of fibroadenoma of the breast is the appearance of a lump that:

  • Has a round shape;
  • It is hard or rubbery in consistency;
  • Does not cause pain or discomfort.

When a woman feels a lump during breast self-examination, she should see a breast specialist for evaluation and rule out breast cancer.

Any other symptoms are extremely rare, although some women may report slight breast discomfort in the days immediately before menstruation.

How to confirm the diagnosis

The diagnosis of fibroadenoma in the breast is usually made by a breast specialist with the help of diagnostic tests, such as mammography and breast ultrasound.

Mammography usually indicates if there is any change in the breast, the degree of breast lesion and estimates the possibility of cancer, through the BIRADS system, which can be:

  • Birads 0: this type of result means that the exam has no diagnostic conclusion or is incomplete, usually due to poor image quality, or when there is doubt whether or not there is a lesion, requiring other complementary exams, such as breast ultrasound;
  • Birads 1: indicates that the exam is normal or negative, showing no changes, in which case it is recommended to follow the annual medical follow-up;
  • Birads 2: indicates that benign lesions were found in the breast, which may be fibroadenoma, breast cyst or calcifications, for example, and annual medical follow-up is generally recommended;
  • Birads 3: indicates that alterations were found in the exam, probably benign, and the physician generally recommends performing a mammogram every 6 months to monitor the lesion;
  • Birads 4: indicates that there is a suspicion of a malignant lesion in the breast, and, in this case, a biopsy is performed to confirm the diagnosis;
  • Birads 5: indicates that changes were found and that there is a lesion, which is possibly a cancer, requiring biopsy to confirm the diagnosis;
  • Birads 6: this type of result is given to women who have already been diagnosed with breast cancer and are undergoing mammography to follow up on cancer treatment.

These exams must be interpreted by the doctor, to confirm the diagnosis and make the most appropriate treatment according to the type of lesion.

Types of fibroadenoma

There are different types of fibroadenoma of the breast:

  • Simple fibroadenoma: typically smaller than 3 cm, contains only one type of cell, and does not increase the risk of cancer;
  • Complex fibroadenoma: contains more than one cell type and very slightly increases the risk of getting breast cancer.

In addition, the doctor may also mention that the fibroadenoma is juvenile or giant, which means that it is longer than 5 cm, which is more common after pregnancy or when taking hormone replacement therapy.

What is the relationship between fibroadenoma and breast cancer?

In most cases, fibroadenoma and breast cancer are not related, as fibroadenoma is a benign tumor, unlike cancer, which is a malignant tumor. However, and according to some studies, women who have the complex fibroadenoma type may be up to 50% more likely to develop breast cancer in the future.

This means that having a fibroadenoma does not mean you will get breast cancer, since even women who do not have any type of fibroadenoma are also at risk of getting cancer. Thus, it is ideal that all women, with or without fibroadenoma, perform breast self-examinations regularly to identify changes in the breast, as well as perform a mammogram at least 1 time every 2 years to identify early signs of cancer.

See how to do a breast self-exam:

Possible causes of fibroadenoma

Fibroadenoma of the breast does not yet have a specific cause, however, it is possible that it arises due to an increased sensitivity of the body to the hormone estrogen. Thus, women who are taking birth control seem to have a higher risk of developing a fibroadenoma, especially if they start using it before age 20.

How the treatment is done

Treatment for breast fibroadenoma should be guided by a mastologist, but it is usually done only with annual mammograms and ultrasounds to monitor the development of the lump, as it can disappear on its own after menopause.

However, if the doctor suspects that the lump may actually be a cancer rather than a fibroadenoma, they may recommend surgery to remove the fibroadenoma and perform a biopsy to confirm the diagnosis.

After surgery for breast fibroadenoma, the nodule can reappear and, therefore, surgery should only be used in cases of suspected breast cancer, since it is not a cure for breast fibroadenoma mama.

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