A fibroma is a benign tumor of the connective tissue. It is a tumor like growth seen anywhere in the body. It is made up of fibrous connective tissue. Fibromas generally occur due to an uncontrolled cell growth which occurs due to an unknown reason. They usually do not require any kind of treatment.
Fibromas can occur in any age group but they seem to occur more frequently in adults. It affects men and women equally and shows no predilection for a particular sex.
The common types of fibromas are:
-angiofibromas (are the benign growths across the nose and the cheeks)
-dermatofibromas (benign skin growths)
-oral fibromas (seen in the mouth)
-Plantar fibromas (benign growth on the foot)
The causes of fibroma are still unknown. They can arise following a minor injury or due to any genetic component. Some medications like the betablockers cause fibrotic changes in the tissue.
Generally no definitive risk factors are associated with fibromas but some of the risk factors include:
-Genetic (commonly seen in the north European ancestry)
-Family history of fibroma
Symptoms for each type fibroma may vary
A) For angiofibroma- Depending on where it is located the symptoms vary. Angiofibromas are most commonly found in the nose or the upper throat. They are locally invasive and show symptoms such as:
1) Difficulty in breathing
2) Hearing loss
3) Bloody discharge through the nose
4) Repeated nosebleeds
5) Stuffy nose
6) Difficulty in swallowing food
B) For dermatofibroma- Dermatofibromas rarely show any symptoms.
1) They generally appear reddish brown in color. The color may change over time.
2) Very firm to touch.
3) They can sometimes be itchy and sensitive to touch.
4) They generally appear raised and bleed if damaged due to any kind of trauma.
5) These are most commonly seen on the legs but sometimes they may appear on the trunk of the body or on arms.
C) For oral fibroma- oral fibromas generally show no symptoms other than feeling or seeing the fibroma.
D) For plantar fibroma- the two main symptoms that can be felt in plantar fibromas are:
-Pain that can be constant or pain which increases on standing up or walking.
-Firm nodules which can be felt just under the skin most commonly located in the arch of the foot in a tissue called as the plantar aponeurosis.
The treatment differs for different types of fibromas. For oral fibroma, the dentist will usually remove the fibroma which interferes with speech or other functions. When the fibromas are removed the tissue is generally sent to a laboratory for examination to rule out cancer specially if the person happens to be a smoker. Another reason for the biopsy of oral fibroma is foul odor.
Dermatofibromas are harmless. Treatment is generally not required unless there are some disturbing symptoms or for cosmetic reasons.
For plantar fibromas, generally a non surgical treatment is preferred. When a surgical treatment for plantar fibromas is carried out, the recovery period is much longer and chances of complications are more.
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