Management of fibroadenoma of the breast

Ann R Coll Surg Engl. 1995 Mar;77(2):127-30.


Fibroadenoma is a common cause of discrete breast lumps in young women. There is agreement that fibroadenomas can be diagnosed preoperatively with a high degree of confidence and that some of the lesions thus diagnosed will resolve, possibly obviating the need for excision. There is, however, wide disagreement over the proportion of fibroadenomas that resolve spontaneously and therefore the benefit that accrues from an expectant policy. The aim of this study was to audit the management of fibroadenomas on one unit and clarify their natural history over a 5-year period. A cohort of 70 women with 87 fibroadenomas diagnosed using a triple assessment of clinical examination, cytology and imaging (sonomammography) have been followed for a minimum of 5 years. In all, 53 of the 'fibroadenomas' have been excised. In four cases the histology revealed benign disease other than fibroadenoma; there were no neoplasms. The sensitivity of cytology and sonomammography for the diagnosis of fibroadenoma were 84% and 98% respectively. Thirty-four fibroadenomas have not been excised. Of 25 fibroadenomas that have been reassessed after at least 5 years of follow-up, 13 (52%) have reduced in size, 4 (16%) are unchanged in size and 8 (32%) have grown. No patient has developed a carcinoma at the site of the presumed fibroadenoma. This study confirms that an expectant management policy of fibroadenomas has not resulted in misdiagnosis of carcinomas. Further, since a significant proportion of fibroadenomas remain static or reduce in size over a 5-year period many women can avoid excision.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Biopsy, Needle
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Breast Neoplasms / surgery
  • Breast Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Fibroadenoma / diagnosis
  • Fibroadenoma / surgery
  • Fibroadenoma / therapy*
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Mammography
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Ultrasonography, Mammary