Can Lipoma Be Cancerous? Some Facts About Lipoma

What is a Lipoma?

Lipoma is a lump of fatty tissues, which develop between the skin and the muscle layer underlying the skin. Lipomas can occur in any part of the body, but are commonly found on trunk, shoulder, armpit, neck and thigh. Usually, lipomas are not tender and move readily under the skin with only a slight pressure of a finger. A lipoma grows slowly, over a period of months or years. A lipoma can affect people of any age and mostly the ages between 40 and 60 years.

What Causes Lipoma?

  • The cause of lipoma is still not known, but there is a possibility of trauma and genetic factors being in the list.
  • The genetic conditions, such as gardener’s syndrome or multiple lipomatosis may cause several lipomas in a person’s body.
  • Madelung’s disease is another rare cause, which leads to lipoma in men who drink a lot of alcohol.

Can Lipoma Be Cancerous?

Can Lipoma Be Cancerous?

Lipoma is benign, which means that lipoma is not cancerous; and is harmless. Lipoma occurs due to overgrowing fat cells. Lipoma is just benign (non-cancerous) mass of fat cells, a cancerous mass of fat cell is known as liposarcoma. It is very rare for a lipoma to become cancerous. Treatment is not necessary for lipoma until it bothers you or if it is painful or growing.

Symptoms of Lipoma

A person suffering from lipoma may feel a soft lump, which is oval in shape, under the skin. These lipoma lumps are not harmful until they affect joints, nerves, organs or blood vessels or cause any other symptoms. If lipoma occurs in deeper tissues they may not be seen, but may put pressure on the underlying organs and produce associated symptoms. For example, a person with lipoma near the bowel may experience nausea, vomiting and constipation.

Changes in Lipoma Which Need Medical Attention

If any changes are noticed in the lipoma, a doctor should be consulted. The changes in lipoma which need medical attention include:

  • If the fatty lipoma lump is painful.
  • The lipoma lump is increasing in size.
  • If the lipoma is turning into a hard immovable lump.
  • If the lipoma is increasing in size or growing quickly.
  • If lipoma is causing changes in the overlying skin, which are visible.

Do You Need To Remove Lipoma?

Lipoma may not need removal unless the following conditions are observed:

  • The lump is cancerous.
  • Lipoma is large and growing.
  • Lipoma is causing pain and discomfort.
  • Lipoma is interfering with body functions.
  • For cosmetic reasons.

If the doctor is not able to give confirmation if it is a lipoma or any other cancerous tumor.


The fact is, lipoma is just a mass of fatty cells and is not cancerous; and rarely can become cancerous. Treatment for lipoma is generally not required; only if the lipoma is growing or producing symptoms. Patient can also seek treatment to remove lipoma for cosmetic reasons.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:September 8, 2021

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