As fibroadenomas are non-cancerous (i.e., benign) tumors of the breast that do not increase the risk of breast cancer, fibroadenomas that do not cause symptoms are not treated.
However, some fibroadenomas cause symptoms of pain and/or an abnormal appearance of the breast. Fibroadenomas that cause symptoms can be treated by surgical removal or cryoablation (i.e., treating the tumor by freezing it).[1, 2]
Disadvantages of surgical removal of a fibroadenoma include:[1, 2]
Procedure usually performed as inpatient operation.
General anesthesia is commonly used.
Usually requires post-operative use of prescription medications for pain
Average recovery time is 2 to 3 days.
Formation of scar tissue at the site of incision
Possible formation of scar tissue inside the breast or dimpling of the breast from surgical removal of the tumor
Damage to the duct system of the breast may occur.
Difficulty in interpretation of mammograms in approximately half of patients who underwent surgical removal
Disadvantages of cryoablation for treatment of fibroadenoma include:
Requires site of puncture in order to insert the probe
Disappearance of the tumor after cryoablation is not immediate.
However, cryoablation for treatment of fibroadenoma has the following advantages:[1, 2]
Performed as an outpatient procedure
No sedation is required.
Local anesthesia is commonly used.
Ultrasound may be used to guide the probe in some types of cryoablation.
Lack of need for stitches
Rarely requires post-operative use of prescription medications for pain
Most patients are able to return to normal activities the day after the procedure.
Lower incidence of scarring
Lower incidence of other complications
Lower incidence of difficulty in interpretation of mammograms in patients who underwent cryoablation
1. Sanarus. Benign breast disease: Frequently asked questions. Sanarus. Accessed at www.sanarus.com/patinfofaqs.html.
2. Medical Procedure News. Cryoablation preferred option for treatment of breast fibroadenoma. News-Medical.Net. 09/14/04. Accessed at www.news-medical.net