Benign Tumors: Everything You Need to Know

27 November, 2020
Most benign tumors don't require intervention, unless the person prefers it for aesthetic reasons. Even so, you should consult a dermatologist to receive a proper diagnosis.

Benign skin tumors are a group of conditions that can have various origins. Their classification is often based on the area where they appear, their size, color, distribution, and symptoms. In any case, they don’t cause major problems, beyond the aesthetic alteration.

According to an article published in the Journal of Cutaneous and Aesthetic Surgery, these alterations occur when there’s a proliferation of one or several components of the skin. And, although they usually aren’t serious, you must visit your dermatologist so that they can evaluate them. Do you want to know more about it? Keep reading!

Why do benign tumors appear?

Like all neoplasms, a benign tumor is a mass of abnormal cells. However, what differentiates them from malignant tumors is that they don’t have the ability to surround tissues or spread to other parts of the body.

This type of tumor lesions are surrounded by a protective capsule that facilitates their extraction. In turn, blood tests, imaging studies (such as an X-ray) or a biopsy can clarify whether the tumor is malignant or benign.

Dermatologist consultation.
Most of the tumors that appear on the skin are benign. Even so, you should have them checked by the dermatologist.

Types of benign tumors

Most people will experience a wide variety of skin growths and changes throughout their lives. Doctors, who have the appropriate training and experience, will be able to classify most of these lesions through a clinical examination.

Adenoma

An adenoma is a benign epithelial neoplasm that arises from the sebaceous or sweat glands. Representative examples include the following:

  • Sebaceous adenoma
  • Apocrine tubular adenoma
  • Hydradenoma

Fibroma

The dermatofibroma, also known as “fibrous histiocytoma”, is one of the most common soft tissue skin lesions. In fact, it represents approximately 3% of the samples received by dermatopathology laboratories.

If the classic clinical and pathological characteristics are present, the diagnosis is usually simple. It’s more frequent in middle-aged adults and has a slight female predominance. They’re often located on the extremities and appear as small, raised, hyperkeratotic skin nodules with a reddish-brown surface.

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Lipoma

Patients suffering from a lipoma often complain of a soft, mobile mass of tissue that can be felt under the skin. These are usually painless unless they invade the joints, nerves or blood vessels.

In general, they’re benign entities and don’t carry a risk of malignant transformation; their prognosis is very good. Once they’re removed, they don’t usually return. However, it’s imperative that the fibrous capsule surrounding the lipoma be completely removed to prevent this from happening.

Myoma

Leiomyomas are benign tumors arising from smooth muscle and are most often seen in the uterine myometrium, gastrointestinal tract, skin and lower extremities of middle-aged women.

Clinically, connective tissue tumors, e.g., fibroids and lipomas, can present findings similar to those of leiomyoma; therefore, a differential diagnosis must be established.

Osteochondroma

Osteochondromas are common; they actually represent 20 to 50% of all benign bone tumors. They can be single or appear as multiple. The solitary form has a good prognosis and the malignant transformation occurs in 1% of cases.

In addition, most solitary lesions are usually small and asymptomatic. However, the diagnosis and treatment of this condition requires the collaboration of different health professions.

Mole (nevi)

Nevus are pigmented skin lesions that can appear from birth and become malignant over time due to abundant sun exposure without adequate protection. In addition to evaluating characteristics A to E of a pigmented lesion, there are specific dermatoscopic patterns to guide the examination.

We highly recommend using sunscreen and self-examining to avoid the development of melanoma. We also recommend avoiding excessive exposure to sunbeds.

Symptoms of benign tumors

Not all benign tumors present a symptomatology. However, due to their size, they can be easily located by palpation. Some of their main characteristics are the following:

  • Pain due to compression of surrounding tissues
  • Volume or raised surface
  • Paresthesias
  • Pruritus

Proper diagnosis of benign tumors

In most cases, when patients go to a surgeon due to a lump, the diagnosis is made by an excisional biopsy. Some benign tumors may recur after incomplete excision.

In addition, many of the nodules the surgeon removes may not be examined by pathological anatomy, and those that are, may be reported as benign skin tumors without further characterization.

According to American Family Physician, any lesion for which the diagnosis is uncertain should be biopsied for histopathological examination to rule out malignancy.

Skin biopsy.
In the presence of nodules or tumors, a skin biopsy is usually suggested.

Also read: What’s a Liquid Biopsy?

What are the therapeutic options?

The treatment of benign tumors is usually for aesthetic reasons. If considered necessary, it varies from a simple surgical excision for single lesions or multiple tumors that don’t respond to other modalities, to Mohs micrographic surgery for lesions in critical anatomical locations.

There are also destructive physical modalities that the treating physician will evaluate based on the sequelae or type of healing of the affected person. Some of the treatment options are the following:

  • Excision with scissors and shaving
  • Curettage with electrodesiccation
  • Dermabrasion
  • Chemical destruction with salicylic acid
  • Radiotherapy
  • Laser surgery and cryotherapy

It’s important to consult a dermatologist

It’s true that benign tumors don’t usually cause major problems. Although they’re different in their appearance, they don’t usually pose a danger. Even so, visiting your dermatologist for a revision is important as you shouldn’t rule out the presence of other more serious problems.

Fortunately, at present, there’s a wide variety of therapeutic options to eliminate these tumors when they pose an aesthetic problem. So the professional will be the one to guide you towards the best alternative!

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