Haemangiomas are the most common type of vascular growths occurring in children. Very commonly, they are also known as birthmarks or strawberry marks (because of their bright red appearance) and nevus. Haemangiomas are extra blood vessels that group together and form clusters. Haemangiomas are vascular tumors.
Can a Haemangioma Become Cancerous?
Hemangiomas are benign growths of the blood vessels in our body. It is just an extra bunch of the blood vessels that group together to form a patch or mass. This means that they do not cause any harm to the body, unless they grow very large, or grow at a particular part of the organ, which may cause the potential difficulties in the functioning of that organ. They are non-cancerous and hence are best left on their own. Intervention is necessary, only when they cause a considerable disturbance in the functioning of the affected organ, or if one wishes to get rid of them for cosmetic purposes.
Haemangiomas are broadly classified into two types-infantile haemangiomas and congenital haemangiomas. Infantile haemangiomas are not present at the time of the birth, but can develop at a later stage of life. They usually develop at around four weeks to six months of a child’s life. In their initial phase, also known as the proliferative phase, they grow very rapidly. Then, they kind of reach a stagnant growth phase and do not grow any more. After a few years of stagnancy, they suddenly start shrinking in size. They keep reducing over a period, and eventually disappear. In most of the cases they disappear by the age of five years and in almost all other cases they go away completely by the time the child celebrates his tenth birthday. In a very rare few cases, the haemangiomas do not go away at all and remain for life. After their involution, some of them may leave a light scar or mark. Some may leave a slight discoloration on the skin. These after effects are of no hazard at all and need no treatment. If one wants they can achieve cosmetic satisfaction by consulting a physician for some medication.
Haemangiomas are also classified as superficial, deep and mixed haemangiomas. Superficial haemangiomas appear pinkish red in color. That is because they are just below the skin. They appear very fleshy and bulge out like a red patch. Deep haemangiomas usually appear purplish in color. This is because they are deep seated compared to the superficial ones. They usually bulge out like a lump and feel very spongy to touch. They may discolor and become blanched when pressed but regain their original color as soon as the pressure is released. Mixed haemangiomas present with the mixed characteristics of both the haemangiomas.
Haemangioma Signs and Symptoms
A haemangioma mostly may start as a small red patch or a lesion and it grows very rapidly during the child’s first year. This phase is also known as the proliferative phase of a haemangioma. Then, it may become like a fleshy or spongy mass that bulges out from the skin. This depends upon the site where they are located and whether they are superficial or deep. Then, their growth stops, and they stay like that for a few more years. Slowly, they begin to involute or shrink in size and then gradually disappear. Nearly all of the haemangiomas are resolved by the age of 10 years.
Haemangiomas usually do not present with any obvious signs or symptoms, except for the alarming red patch, during or after their growth. However, sometimes they may cause some difficulties in organ functioning if they grow very large or become a burden to the organ due to their sheer weight.
Haemangiomas can also occur on the internal organs and are usually diagnosed during the tests performed for some totally different reasons. Very rarely they do cause certain symptoms like pain in abdomen, reduction in appetite, nausea and vomiting, etc.
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