Lumps and Bumps

“Lumps and bumps” is a term to describe a variety of subcutaneous masses (“tumors”) under the skin. Not to worry, most are benign and not cancerous. However, one should not be lulled into complacency, as sometimes a cancerous tumor can develop. The chance of a cancer is greater if the mass is large in size, rapidly increasing in size, deeply seated especially inside the muscle layer, or irregularly shaped. If these conditions exist, the mass should be examined by a physician. Generally, an excision is recommended if one of these conditions exists and/or if the mass is causing discomfort or pain. This is especially true if the mass is causing “nerve-related” symptoms in an extremity, such as tingling, numbness or radiating pain.

(Important Note: Conditions listed below are by no means exhaustive of the entire spectrum of soft tissue tumors under the skin, for which you should consult your own physician.)

Epidermal Cyst

These cysts vary in size from very small (< 1 cm or ½ inch) to very large (> 4-5 cm or 2 inches). They appear primarily on the face, back, lower neck or base of the ears, or anywhere else in the body, even on the labia. They maybe associated with a “blackhead” which is a visible keratin-filled orifice communicating through the skin. Removal of the cyst wall and the cyst content is the definitive treatment, most easily done when sterile and uninflamed. When they become inflamed and infected like a “boil”, they require a much more complex procedure and prolonged recovery. It is best to avoid this complication if at all possible. Therefore, if you have this condition, you should inquire about it with a physician or a dermatologist. These can get infected at the most inconvenient time in your life when you can least afford the time to deal with them.

Lipoma

One of a group of conditions called “Soft Tissue Tumors,” lipoma is a common condition arising from the subcutaneous adipose (fatty) tissue. It is usually mobile (i.e. it’s loose and you can roll it around under the skin). It usually is small and does not attract attention to itself unless it becomes large and causes pain, or is located near a nerve and causes pain. If a lipoma is large, rapidly growing in size, deeply seated, immobile or irregularly shaped, its likelihood of being a liposarcoma (cancer) is much greater, and it should be examined by a physician. Two common reasons requiring excision are to relieve pain and to establish diagnosis.

Other Soft Tissue Tumors

Soft tissue tumors are, generally speaking, rare conditions that may present as “lumps and bumps.” Other than the lipoma arising from adipose (fatty) tissue, tumors can arise from the skeletal muscle (Rhabdomyoma, Rhabdomyosarcoma), the nerve cells (Neurofibroma, Schwanoma), from the bones (Osteoma, Osteosarcoma), from the smooth muscle cells (Leiomyoma, Leiomyosarcoma), etc. These are listed here only to show that there are many different causes of “lumps and bumps,” however uncommon or rare. Always, a persistent abnormality should be first examined by a physician. If still not satisfactorily explained, it may also have to be examined by a special “X-ray,” such as a CT scan or an MRI study.

Contact Us

If you have questions about our tumor removal procedures we are happy to do what we can to answer them. Please contact us for a consultation at our Springfield, MA office. Advanced Vein Care Center can be reached by phone at (413) 732-4242 or fill out the form below.