Fibroadenomas are common noncancerous (benign) breast lumps. They're a type of benign breast disease that rarely increases breast cancer risk. Fibroadenomas may get bigger or smaller over time. Some disappear completely. Most lumps don’t require treatment. Your healthcare provider may recommend more frequent screenings to catch breast changes early.
A fibroadenoma is a noncancerous (benign) breast lump. This smooth, round, solid tumor consists of fibrous tissue and glandular tissue that form a mass. In very rare cases, a fibroadenoma may contain breast cancer.
Fibroadenomas often shrink or go away without treatment. Your healthcare provider may watch a fibroadenoma over time to see how it changes or recommend surgery to remove it.
There are two main types of fibroadenomas:
Other types of fibroadenomas include:
Benign breast lumps, including fibroadenomas, are common. A fibroadenoma is the most common type of benign breast lump. They happen most often when you’re between ages 15 and 35. Up to 10% of people assigned female at birth (AFAB) will have a fibroadenoma at some point in their lives.
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Fibroadenomas are solid lumps (not filled with fluid) in one or both breasts. They aren’t painful and move easily under your skin if you push them around your breast. They can be as small as a pea or grow as large as a golf ball (about 2 to 3 cm is typical).
A fibroadenoma can be:
You may notice it becomes tender in the few days just before the start of your period. Large fibroadenomas are more likely to cause pain than small fibroadenomas.
Fibroadenomas tend to grow very slowly, but they don’t always get bigger and may even shrink. This is especially true if you’re in your teens or have reached menopause. Conversely, a fibroadenoma may grow larger during pregnancy.
Healthcare providers don’t know why some people get fibroadenomas. Some believe it has to do with being sensitive to estrogen. This is because fibroadenomas tend to grow during pregnancy or hormone therapy (when estrogen is higher), while they’re more likely to shrink after menopause (when estrogen is lower).
Fibroadenomas grow in the lobule area of your breast tissue. Lobules are the glands in your breasts that make milk during lactation.
Fibroadenoma is most common between the ages of 15 and 35. However, anyone who has a period (menstruates) can get them. Once you reach menopause, they become uncommon. Black people have a slightly higher risk of developing a fibroadenoma.
Most fibroadenomas aren’t life-threatening or cancerous. But, they can get bigger, change in appearance or become painful. Like most breast diseases, regular breast exams or mammograms are the best way to prevent complications. While breast disease is often unavoidable, your risk for complications from these diseases decreases with early detection.
Contact your healthcare provider anytime you notice a breast lump or breast changes. Some fibroadenomas are too small to notice. If you or your healthcare provider finds a lump, your provider may perform these tests to determine what type of lump you have:
Some fibroadenomas shrink in size or disappear without treatment. If a biopsyconfirms the lump isn’t cancerous, your healthcare provider may recommend follow-up appointments to monitor the lump for any changes (usually in three to six months). This could involve manual breast exams, ultrasound or mammogram.
Sometimes, a provider recommends surgery to remove a fibroadenoma. This happens when they’re concerned about the results of your imaging tests or biopsy, or if the lump causes pain. Surgery is sometimes necessary for very large fibroadenomas. The most common procedure to remove a fibroadenoma is a surgical excision (cutting the lump out). Another option involves freezing the fibroadenoma in a procedure called cryoablation. Healthcare providers don’t use this method as often.
Yes, it’s possible to get more than one fibroadenoma. That’s why it’s important to become familiar with how your breasts typically feel. You should alert your healthcare provider to any new lumps in your breasts.
Healthcare providers may recommend removing a fibroadenoma if it’s large, painful or suspicious. However, this isn’t always the case. Many fibroadenomas shrink or go away without treatment.
In the case of a small, unsuspicious fibroadenoma, nothing happens if it goes untreated. Your healthcare provider is the best person to decide if removing a fibroadenoma is necessary or if monitoring it for changes is a better route. Be sure to ask your provider any questions you have so you understand your treatment plan.
Unfortunately, you can’t do anything to lower your risk of fibroadenomas. However, you can take these steps to reduce breast cancer risk:
Most people with fibroadenomas or benign breast disease don’t develop breast cancer. Still, you should follow the recommended screening schedule set forth by your provider and report any changes in your breasts.
It’s rare for fibroadenomas to turn into cancer. However, you should continue to check the tissue in your breast for new lumps or changes to existing lumps. Becoming aware of how your breasts feel is the best way to recognize changes that could be worrisome.
Try not to worry about a fibroadenoma. They’re rarely cancerous and most can be left alone. Your healthcare provider is there to answer any questions you have and ease your fears.
Getting a fibroadenoma rarely increases your risk for cancer. However, you should follow your provider’s recommendations on breast cancer screenings just to make sure.
You should call your healthcare provider if you experience:
If you have a fibroadenoma, you may want to ask your healthcare provider:
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Finding a breast lump can be scary, but most lumps aren’t cancerous. Once you know what a benign fibroadenoma feels like, you can quickly notice any suspicious changes and identify new benign lumps. Most people with fibroadenomas don’t need treatment. Some lumps disappear on their own, but never assume a new lump is benign without getting it checked!
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 05/16/2023.
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