Fibroadenoma: Is Surgery the Only Treatment?
Although finding a lump in your breast is, without a doubt, an alarming discovery, the good news is that not every breast abnormality is necessarily cancer-related. One of the most common categories of breast tissue growth is a fibroadenoma, and it occurs in approximately 10 percent of women in the United States.
Fibroadenomas are non-malignant growths in breast tissue, they can vary in size and shape slightly, and can be undetectable during manual self-exams. While the vast majority are only one or two centimeters in size and painless, they can occasionally grow large enough to cause a patient significant emotional distress, and even – in some rare circumstances – physical discomfort. These large growths may be removed surgically (the surgical removal of a fibroadenoma is commonly called an excisional breast biopsy), but not every patient wants surgical intervention for the following reasons:
- The patient doesn’t want to experience the stress of surgical intervention.
- The patient doesn’t want to risk experiencing aesthetic abnormalities sometimes associated with breast lump removal.
- The patient doesn’t want to (or cannot) take time away from work or personal responsibilities, or modify their activities during recovery.
So, are there non-surgical treatment options? If you do not wish to have fibroadenomas removed surgically, here ae some alternatives you may want to discuss with your physician.
Fibroadenomas do not always require active treatment, as they can shrink and disappear with no intervention. However, because the exact cause of fibroadenomas isn’t known, their behavior within individual patients should be watched if only to determine whether they grow large enough to cause the breast tissue to become misshapen.
Because fibroadenomas are known to occur in patients experiencing hormone fluctuations (particularly during or post-pregnancy), some physicians recommend monitoring the progress of the fibroadenomas to determine whether they are growing or shrinking.
While cryoablation – also called cryotherapy – is technically a surgical procedure, it is a minimally-invasive, outpatient treatment that doesn’t require general anesthesia or recovery time.
Cryoablation is an ultrasound-guided technique that destroys a benign tumor by using liquid nitrogen to freeze the tissue. This procedure is performed in-office and may take only a few minutes to perform. Once the fibroadenoma is killed, the body gradually absorbs the dead cells.
The procedure only requires a small incision, discomfort is minimal, and the patient may resume normal activities on the same day of treatment. The normal appearance of the breast is preserved, with only a small likelihood of scarring (though some patients are naturally more susceptible to scarring than others).
Every patient is different, so your fibroadenoma treatment options should be tailored to your own health and lifestyle. If you have discovered a lump in your breast, please don’t hesitate to contact your physician immediately so that you can take action without delay.
Bedford Breast Center offers comprehensive breast care services, helping women preserve and restore their health in a comfortable and compassionate clinical setting. To schedule an appointment for a screening, consultation, or treatment, please contact our team today.