What is a fibroma?
The definition of fibroma is a noncancerous (benign) tumor or growth consisting of fibrous, connective tissue. Since you have tissue all over your body, they can appear almost anywhere. If you develop a fibroma, you may not have any symptoms. Most don’t require any treatment because they usually aren’t cancerous (malignant). Fibrosarcomas, rather, are malignant tumors.
What are the different types of fibromas?
Fibromas can occur on your skin, organs and other tissues. The most common types include:
A plantar fibroma is a knot or lump in the plantar fascia tissue in the arch of your foot. Your plantar fascia is a band of tissue that supports your muscle and runs from your heel to your toes.
A non-ossifying fibroma is a benign bone tumor made of tissue such as scar tissue. Non-ossifying means it doesn’t calcify into your bone tissue. The tumor grows on your bone, but it’s not made of bone. These types of growths affect as many as 20% to 40% of healthy children.
An angiofibroma is a growth made up of blood vessels and fibrous tissue. They look like small, flesh-colored, pink or red pimples on your cheeks or nose.
A dermatofibroma is a growth that can occur anywhere on your skin. They most often appear on your upper arms, lower legs and upper back. These skin growths feel like hard lumps below your skin. They range in color from flesh-colored to deep purple.
An oral fibroma is a growth on the inside of your mouth. They most often appear on the inside of your cheek where your upper and lower teeth meet. These types of growths are called irritation or traumatic fibromas because they occur due to irritation or after trauma in the area.
A uterine fibroid is a growth on the wall inside or outside of your uterus. You could develop one or many fibroids and they vary in size.
Who do fibromas affect?
Anyone can develop a fibroma, but other than the non-ossifying type, they occur mostly in adults. Plantar fibromas are more likely to affect people of European descent than other ethnicities. Dermatofibromas affect people of all ages but are more common in people in their 20s, 30s and 40s. They also develop more often in people assigned female at birth (AFAB) than people assigned male at birth (AMAB).
Up to 70% of people AFAB will develop a uterine fibroid during their lifetime. This type of fibroma typically affects people AFAB in their 30s and 40s. They’re two to five times more common in Black people AFAB.
Symptoms and Causes
What are the symptoms of fibromas?
Fibroma symptoms depend on the type. Some don’t cause any symptoms, but others do.
Plantar fibromas can cause a lump in the arch of your foot that’s firm to the touch. You may have significant pain when walking or standing.
Non-ossifying fibromas can cause swelling and tenderness if they grow too big, but they usually don’t cause any pain.
Dermatofibromas may not cause any symptoms. However, sometimes they itch, change color, are sensitive to the touch and can cause tenderness.
Oral fibromas appear as smooth bumps that may be the same color as the rest of your mouth, but they usually don’t cause any other symptoms.
Uterine fibroids can cause a range of symptoms. Some people don’t experience any symptoms, but others have severe issues. Symptoms may include:
- Pelvic pain.
- Low back pain.
- Bladder and bowel issues.
- Painful intercourse (dyspareunia).
- Irregular periods (menstruation).
- Heavy or prolonged menses.
- Abnormal bleeding between menses.
What causes fibromas?
Fibromas develop for various reasons. Some develop for unknown reasons, such as plantar fibromas and non-ossifying fibromas. Others develop when your cells grow uncontrollably due to genetics, such as angiofibromas.
Other fibromas develop due to injuries or other trauma to the area, such as dermatofibromas and oral fibromas. Some medications may cause these growths as well.
Uterine fibroids develop due to hormones. There are more estrogen and progesterone receptors in uterine fibroid cells than in normal cells found in your uterine tissue. In addition, uterine fibroids often get smaller when your hormone levels decrease after menopause.
Diagnosis and Tests
How are fibromas diagnosed?
Your healthcare provider will perform a physical examination to diagnose a fibroma. They’ll ask about your symptoms and your medical history. Depending on the type of growth, your provider may request testing to confirm the diagnosis. Testing may include imaging tests. These tests may include:
Your healthcare provider may diagnose other fibromas by performing a biopsy. They’ll take a tissue sample from the growth and examine it under a microscope.
Management and Treatment
How are fibromas treated?
While fibromas won’t go away on their own, you don’t typically need to have them removed. If they aren’t bothering you or causing you any symptoms, your provider may not treat them. But if a growth is causing issues in your daily life, you may want to consider treatment. Treatment depends on the type of fibroma.
For plantar fibromas, your healthcare provider may recommend a noninvasive treatment such as inserts for your shoes (orthotics), stretching exercises or corticosteroid injections. Your provider will rarely suggest surgery.
Non-ossifying fibromas usually don’t need treatment. Your child’s healthcare provider may just monitor the tumor. If it grows too large, they may recommend removing it to avoid structural weakening of your child’s bone.
If angiofibromas cause pain or you want to remove them for cosmetic reasons, your provider may suggest cryotherapy, laser treatment or dermabrasion.
Your provider can remove dermatofibromas, but you should note the tissue changes and scars will alter your appearance as well. Surgical removal is typically an easy outpatient procedure. They may also use cryotherapy to remove the growth.
If you need treatment for an oral fibroma, your healthcare provider will need to surgically remove it. But these growths tend to reoccur, so it’s important to manage the source of the irritation.
Noninvasive treatment options for uterine fibroids include medication and uterine artery embolization. If uterine fibroids affect your fertility or cause severe symptoms, you may need surgery. Your healthcare provider can perform a surgical procedure to remove uterine fibroids called a myomectomy. There are many other treatment options for uterine fibroids.
How can I prevent fibromas?
You can’t prevent fibromas caused by genetics or unknown reasons. For tumors caused by trauma or irritation, you can take precautions to lower your risk. For instance, insect bites and splinters can cause dermatofibromas, so you can use bug spray and be careful when working with wood. You can prevent oral fibromas by avoiding biting your cheeks and lips, and seeing your dentist regularly.
Outlook / Prognosis
What can I expect if I have a fibroma?
Fibromas are noncancerous (benign), which means they’re typically not serious or life-threatening. If you have a fibroma, especially one causing any symptoms, reach out to your healthcare provider. They can evaluate the fibroma and treat it if necessary.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Fibromas are harmless growths that can show up anywhere in and on your body. Most of the time, they don’t produce any symptoms and aren’t anything to worry about. You may never even know you have one until it shows up on an unrelated imaging test. But if you have symptoms of a fibroma that interfere with your daily activities, see your healthcare provider. They can evaluate the growth and determine a good course of treatment to get you on your way.
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