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Breast lumps

Symptoms of non-cancerous breast lumps

This harmless lump in the breast is common among younger women – our experts explain how it is diagnosed and treated.

About

A fibroadenoma is a harmless lump in the breast. The causes of fibroadenoma are unknown, but they develop when non-cancerous tissue and ducts grow over a lobule (milk-producing gland) and form a solid lump. Fibroadenomas can develop at any age, but they are most common in younger women, often developing during puberty.

Need to know

  • Symptoms of fibroadenoma icon plus

    The lumps are usually painless (although some people experience tenderness), feel smooth under the skin and move around easily.

    The different types of fibroadenoma are:
    • Simple fibroadenoma – the most common form, measuring 1-3cm in size. These do not increase your chances of developing breast cancer.
    • Complex fibroadenoma – a less common form that tends to occur in older women and may grow over time. These may slightly increase your chances of developing breast cancer.
    • Giant/juvenile fibroadenoma – larger lumps that grow larger than 5cm in size.
  • Diagnosis icon plus

    While a fibroadenoma is harmless, it is always important to get any lump in the breasts checked out by a specialist.

    In order to diagnose fibroadenoma, your consultant may carry out one or more of the following tests:
    • A breast examination.
    • Breast X-ray (mammogram) – using a mammogram machine, your breast is gently pressed flat under a plastic plate to ensure a clear image is taken.
    • Ultrasound – a scan that uses sound waves to build up a picture of the inside of the breast with a small hand-held sensor which is pressed against the skin.
    • Biopsy or fine needle aspiration – inserting a needle into the breast to remove tissue for testing.
  • Potential treatment options icon plus

    Many fibroadenomas do not require surgery, but sometimes an excision biopsy is needed. This procedure removes large, complex or juvenile fibroadenomas.

    The surgery can involve:
    • Local or general anaesthetic – your consultant will discuss the options so you are fully prepared.
    • Dissolvable stitches may be used under the skin - these won’t need to be removed afterwards. If non-dissolvable stitches are used, they will be taken out a few days after surgery.
    • Another type of treatment available to remove the lump is vacuum-assisted excision biopsy. With this option, the lump will be removed without surgery under local anaesthetic.
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This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.
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