Phyllodes tumor vs Fibroadenoma Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment

The most common benign breast tumors are phyllodes tumor and fibroadenoma. They appear as unique lesions and arise from intralobular fibrous tissue. After some time they are differentiated as phyllodes tumor and fibroadenoma.

 Phyllodes is a rare form of cancer that accounts for fewer than 1% of all breast cancers. They can be benign, malignant, or both. These tumors have a leaf-like shape under the microscope, thus was named phyllodes which is a Greek word that means leaf. Mostly the cause of this tumor is unknown but genetic disorders can increase the risk of Phyllodes tumor.

 In most cases, they are benign and resemble fibroadenomas. Malignant phyllodes begin in the connective tissue that surrounds the ducts and lobules of breast tissue.

 Fibroadenomas, on the other hand, are non-cancerous breast lumps that occur in women aged 15 and 35. It feels like a smooth, rubbery, or hard lump that has a definite shape. Fibroadenomas are painless and when examined, it feels like a piece of marble is moving in the breast.

 They have different sizes and may enlarge or shrink on their own. But usually, their size ranges between 1 to 2 centimeters, unlike phyllodes tumors.

Phyllodes tumor vs Fibroadenoma Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment

 Phyllodes tumor vs Fibroadenoma Symptoms

 A breast lump is the most common symptom of a phyllodes tumor, which can be felt by you or your doctor. The breast skin might turn red or warm. Phyllodes tumor tends to grow rapidly to a size of 2-3 centimeters or larger, within weeks or months.

 The increasing growth of the tumor does not necessarily mean that it is malignant, benign tumors can grow quickly too. If a phyllodes tumor is left unchecked, it can develop into a visible bulge that pushes against the skin.

 Advanced cases of this tumor can lead to ulcers or open wounds on the breast skin. Now let’s talk about the symptoms of fibroadenoma!

 In the case of fibroadenoma, the patient will feel a solid breast lump, which is round with smooth and distinct borders. They can be moved easily during an examination. Moreover, fibroadenomas can be firm or rubbery. These tumors can develop in single or both breasts which are usually not tender.

Phyllodes tumor vs Fibroadenoma Causes

The cause of the phyllodes tumor is still unknown. Most commonly women can develop this cancer as they age. Several factors might contribute to the causes of this tumor. These include:

  • Breastfeeding
  • Pregnancy
  • Injury to the breast
  • Increased Estrogen levels can be a major problem
  • Genetic disorders

Like phyllodes tumors, fibroadenomas’ causes are not known. Several clinical studies suggest that certain factors can act as a culprit for these tumors. These factors are listed as follows:

  • Female hormone estrogen can play a major in development and increase in fibroadenomas
  • The high risk of fibroadenoma is often linked with the usage of oral contraceptives before the age of 20
  • During pregnancy, they increase in size and decrease if developed during menopause. They might resolve on their own.
  • Excessive intake of stimulants like tea, coffee, and chocolates or any certain prescribed medications can be a leading cause

Phyllodes tumor vs Fibroadenoma Diagnosis

The diagnosis of phyllodes tumor and fibroadenomas is a daunting task. They appear similar to each other. In either case, the patient should feel the lump during self-examination of the breast. It is vital to visit a doctor if you see breast changes or an increase in the lump size.

To distinguish between the diagnosis of phyllodes and fibroadenoma, doctors will perform specific tests to confirm, along with a clinical breast exam. The size and shape of the lump are checked with this clinical exam. The tests for diagnosis might include:

  • The pictures of breasts are taken by mammogram which uses X rays
  • An MRI scan produces cross-sectional pictures using powerful magnets and radio waves.
  • An ultrasound test report can be helpful, as it takes pictures of the breasts using sound waves.
  • The end resort is a biopsy, in which a hollow needle is used to remove a piece of the tumor or the whole tumor by cutting the skin

Phyllodes tumor vs Fibroadenoma Treatment

Even though the phyllodes tumor and fibroadenoma are usually benign in most cases. It might grow, cause problems and pain. Here are the treatment options for phyllodes tumors. Your doctor will recommend different types of surgeries like:


The tumor is removed with at least 1 centimeter of the tissues surrounding it. It can prevent the recurrence of tumors.

Partial Mastectomy

The entire part of the breast is removed if the tumor is larger.

Total Mastectomy

In a total mastectomy, the whole breast is removed and the surgeon can provide the option of breast reconstructive surgery during or after mastectomy.

If a phyllodes tumor is cancerous then the doctor will recommend it for either chemotherapy or radiation. In radiation, high-energy waves are used to kill cancer cells. This can be recommended after surgery if cancer hasn’t spread to other parts of the body. Moreover, chemotherapy uses chemicals to kill cancer cells.

Now let’s move to the treatment options for fibroadenoma. The following procedures can be used to remove fibroadenoma:

Excisional biopsy or Lumpectomy

The breast tissue is removed in this procedure and sent to a lab to check the severity and the type of cancer


Cryoprobe is a thin wand-like device that is inserted through the skin in the fibroadenoma. The tissue is frozen and destroyed with a gas. Continuous screening is essential because after removing fibroadenoma new fibroadenomas may develop.

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