Most of the breast lesions are benign. Breast fibroadenoma is the most common, and is also called breast fibroid. Although common at all ages, it mainly develops in women between 15 and 35.
Breast fibroadenomas can move around freely, their aspect is firm solid and smooth and limits are well defined and can be easily identified.
Often found during a medical examination or by women doing their own palpation, the radiologic images using mammography and ultrasound confirms the diagnosis. In some cases, a micro biopsy is necessary to confirm its benign nature.
Its size may vary from 1 to 15 cm and it can be found anywhere in the breast.
Breast fibroadenoma is the most common benign breast disease1. It is estimated that 10% of women will develop a fibroadenoma during their lifetime2. In France, the number of fibroadenomas detected each year is estimated to be in the tens of thousands. In the United States, fibroadenomas make up half of the 1.6 million biopsies performed each year (3).
Several factors are considered when deciding how to deal with a fibroadenoma, including the age of the patient, the size of the fibroadenoma and the physical or psychological harm caused by the fibroadenoma. Depending on these factors, the fibroadenoma may be removed surgically or simply monitored regularly.
• Regular monitoring means observing the development of the fibroadenoma. It is recommended if the fibroadenoma is small (less than 3 cm), is not irritating the patient, and is detected in a woman aged under 35 with no family history of breast cancer, and if this is option is supported by a biopsy and by clinical, radiological and ultrasound examinations.
• If these criteria are not met, or if the fibroadenoma increases in size, it may be removed. This requires the patient to undergo an operation (usually under general anaesthetic) in which an incision is made in order to remove the fibroadenoma.
Echotherapy is an alternative to both surgery and monitoring, enabling the non-invasive treatment of benign tumours without scarring. Echotherapy procedures for fibroadenomas are performed in outpatient clinics under local anaesthetic, and no recovery time is necessary after the procedure.
(1). Greenberg R, Skornick Y, Kaplan O. Management of breast fibroadenomas. J Gen Intern Med 1998;13(9):640-5. (2). Merih Guray Aysegul A. Sahin Benign Breast Diseases: Classification, Diagnosis, and Management.The Oncologist, 11: 435-449. 2006. (3). Grady D. Study of breast biopsies finds surgery used too extensively. February 18, 2011.