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Fibroadenomas are benign breast tumors commonly found in young women. Fibroadenoma means "a tumor composed of glandular (related to gland) and fibrous (containing fibers) tissues."


Breast fibroadenomas, abnormal growths of glandular and fibrous tissues, are most common between the ages of 15 and 30, and are found in 10% of all women (20% of African-American women). They are found rarely in postmenopausal women.
Described as feeling like marbles, these firm, round, movable, and "rubbery" lumps range from 1-5 cm in size. Giant fibroadenomas are larger, lemon-sized lumps. Usually single, from 10-15% of women have more than one.
While some types of breast lumps come and go during the menstrual cycle, fibroadenomas typically do not disappear after a woman's period, and should be checked by a doctor.

Causes and symptoms

The cause of breast fibroadenomas is unknown. They may be dependent upon estrogen, because they are common in premenopausal women, can be found in postmenopausal women taking estrogen, and because they grow larger in pregnant women.
Fibroadenomas usually cause no symptoms and may be discovered during breast self-examination, or during a routine check-up.


When the doctor takes a complete medical history, they will ask when the lump was first noticed, if there were any symptoms or changes in lump size, and if there is any personal or family history of breast disease.
The doctor thoroughly feels the breasts (palpates). Tests are done, usually including mammography or ultrasound scans, or surgical removal of cells or tissue for examination under a the microscope (biopsy).
Diagnostic tests include:
  • Mammogram. An x-ray examination of the breast.
  • Ultrasound scan. A technique that uses sound waves to display a two-dimensional image of the breast, showing whether a lump is solid or fluid-filled (cystic).
  • Fine-needle aspiration biopsy. A minor procedure wherein fluid or cells are drawn out of the lump through a small needle (aspirated).
  • Core biopsy. A procedure wherein a larger piece of tissue is withdrawn from the lump through a larger needle.
  • Incisional biopsy. A surgical procedure wherein a piece of the lump is removed through an cut (incision).
  • Excisional biopsy. A surgical procedure wherein the entire lump is removed through an cut (incision).
Most insurance plans cover the costs of diagnosing and treating fibroadenomas.


Performed usually in outpatient settings, breast fibroadenomas are removed by lumpectomy, or surgical excision under local or general anesthesia. Sometimes lumps in younger women are not removed but are monitored by self-examination, yearly doctor checkups, and mammograms. Surgery is generally recommended for women over 30, and for lumps that are painful or enlarging.

Alternative treatment

Alternative treatments for breast fibroadenomas include a low-fat, high-fiber, vegetarian-type diet; a reduction in caffeine intake; supplementation with evening primrose oil (Oenothera biennis), flax oil, or fish oil and vitamins E and C; and the application of hot compresses to the breast. In addition, a focus on liver cleansing is important to assist the body in conjugation and elimination of excess estrogens. Botanical remedies can be useful in hormone balancing, as can acupuncture and homeopathy. Massaging the breasts with castor oil, straight or infused with herbs or essential oils, can help fibroadenomas reduce and dissipate, as well as keep women in touch with changes in their breast tissue.

Key terms

Aspiration — To withdraw material with a needle and syringe.
Biopsy — To remove cells or tissue for microscopic examination.
Estrogen — Female sex hormone produced by the ovaries.


Breast fibroadenomas are not cancerous. The lumps recur in up to 20% of women. A small number of lumps disappear on their own.


Breast fibroadenomas cannot be prevented. They can be discovered early by regular breast self-examination.



American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. 409 12thStreet, S.W., PO Box 96920.
Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


adenoma containing fibrous elements.
Miller-Keane Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing, and Allied Health, Seventh Edition. © 2003 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier, Inc. All rights reserved.


A benign neoplasm derived from glandular epithelium, in which there is a conspicuous stroma of proliferating fibroblasts and connective tissue elements; commonly occurs in breast tissue.
Farlex Partner Medical Dictionary © Farlex 2012


Surgery A firm, round, and almost invariably benign tumor that occurs in the breast of younger–age 20-45 ♀, which is composed of a dense stromal tissue, within which are ribbons of compressed glands Vox populi Lump in the breast. Cf Breast CA.
McGraw-Hill Concise Dictionary of Modern Medicine. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


A benign neoplasm derived from glandular epithelium, in which there is a conspicuous stroma of proliferating fibroblasts and connective tissue elements; commonly occurs in breast tissue.
Synonym(s): fibroid adenoma, adenoma fibrosum.
Medical Dictionary for the Health Professions and Nursing © Farlex 2012


A benign (non-malignant) tumour of glandular and fibrous tissue. Most breast lumps in young women are fibroadenomas and are harmless but, unfortunately, cannot reliably be distinguished from cancers and should always be removed for examination.
Collins Dictionary of Medicine © Robert M. Youngson 2004, 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
In addition to breast cancer, these endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are linked to benign breast masses such as fibrocystic breast disease and fibroadenomas. (19,21)
The other limitation of FNAC is it cannot differentiate few lesions like fibroadenoma from phyllodes, phyllodes from metaplastic carcinoma breast, papilloma from papillary carcinoma, and atypical ductal hyperplasia from ductal carcinoma in situ.
The study concluded that these results provide support for the protective effect of soy foods and fatty fish, further suggesting that the ratios of fatty acids may play an important role in fibroadenoma development and conversely prevention.
Fibroadenomas arise within the lobule of the breast and not from a single cell.
Juvenile giant fibroadenomas are very rapidly growing masses.
In our two patients, spontaneous infarction of a fibroadenoma had occurred.
Cuando un fibroadenoma supera los 5 cm de tamano se clasifica como un fibroadenoma gigante y corresponde a un 0.5-2% de todos los fibroadenomas (3) La clinica usualmente corresponde a una masa unica, firme, de crecimiento rapido que en ocasiones puede ulcerar la piel por presion (4); despues de resecar estas masas gigantes por rareza es necesaria de manera inmediata la competencia de la cirugia reconstructiva de seno.
Q I HAD a mammogram and they found a fibroadenoma. Is this cancer?
Studies looking at the histopathology of young patients who have had surgery for a breast mass show that the most consistent fending is of fibroadenoma, though some showed fibrocystic changes, abscess, and infection, and in very rare cases, malignant diseases, said Dr.
The most common cause of lumps is a particular kind of tumour that is usually benign, called a fibroadenoma, usually found in the rat's mammary glands.
At first, this nodule appears to be a fibroadenoma, leading to an ultrasound examination to better characterize the tumor.