Unfortunately, the presence of a fibroadenoma in breast tissue means an increased risk of eventual breast cancer.
However, this risk is influenced by the tumor’s cellular features.
Cellular Features of Fibroadenoma that Especially Increase Risk of Invasive Breast Cancer
(New England Journal of Medicine report, July, 1994)
• Epithelial calcifications
• Contains cysts
• Sclerosing adenosis
• Papillary apocrine changes
A fibroadenoma is a benign tumor (mass) of fibrous and glandular tissue. When it has any of the above features, it is referred to as a complex fibroadenoma.
The upped risk of breast cancer lingers even 20 years after the discovery of a fibroadenoma – which is usually discovered before age 30, sometimes even in the teen years.
What increases the risk of breast cancer even more, in a woman with fibroadenoma, is if her mother, sister or daughter had breast cancer.
If a fibroadenoma is removed (and often, this is the recommendation), this does not eliminate the increased risk of breast cancer.
When to Start Mammograms
If you have a complex fibroadenoma + first-degree relative with breast cancer, it would be a wise idea to begin mammograms between age 35 and 40. Discuss this with your gynecologist.
What about simple or non-complex adenoma and increased breast cancer risk?
The New England Journal of Medicine study by Dupont et al states: Two thirds of the patients [in the study] had noncomplex fibroadenomas and no family history of breast cancer and did not have an increased risk.
Variables such as family history influenced risk levels associated with complex fibroadenoma.
The NEJ says: The risk of invasive breast cancer was 2.17 times higher among the patients with fibroadenoma than among the controls.
The 2.17 percent figure includes complex adenomas included in the analysis.
If you’ve been diagnosed with a fibroadenoma, find out if it’s complex and if so, what cellular (histological) features make it as such.