Lipomas are benign tumors consisting of soft fat tissue mass. They are usually diagnosed through a physical exam, where their feel and appearance is considered. A biopsy should also be done to confirm that the mass under your skin is truly a lipoma. This is because other bumps on the skin can be mistaken for lipomas while they are not.
Nonetheless, lipomas are easily recognized because they are often soft, movable and painless. Not to mention, they often appear on the neck, trunk, shoulders, arms, legs, and back.
Who Gets Lipomas?
Lipomas are not rare tumors that people hardly develop. They are common and can occur in people of different gender and age. Lipomas can be present even in newborn babies, but are most prevalent in women over 40 years of age. Men are not vulnerable to lipomas but it doesn’t mean they cannot get the fatty tissue growths. As a matter of fact, when men develop lipomas they get several of them, whereas women often just have one. Lipomas have been classified as a hereditary problem caused by a genetic form that is transferred down to family generations. Lifestyle can also trigger the formation of lipomas and are usually an indication of obesity.
Can a Lipoma Become Cancerous?
The risk of lipoma becoming cancerous is low. Many people tend to agree a hundred percent that lipomas cannot become cancerous. However, the accuracy of that is a little bit overrated. In cases of small lipomas and non-growing ones, then the chances are very low. However, for constantly growing ones, the risk becomes higher.
Although, it does not necessarily mean it will erupt into a liposarcoma, which is a cancerous form of fatty cells growth. The only time when a lipoma can become cancerous is if it is constantly growing, feels hard and is symptomatic.
One important journey to determining whether a lipoma is cancerous is a diagnosis. During the diagnosis, various physical tests are usually done and biopsies conducted in case of an inconclusive result from the physical examination. A biopsy involves removing a small part of the tumor mass, which is then observed under a microscope for signs of cancer. A CT-scan or MRI can also be done to assess the nature of a lipoma. The CT-scan takes images from different angles while the MRI uses magnetic waves to provide clear and detailed images of the lipoma. The benefits of a diagnosis are that it helps establish whether treatment is necessary and gives one peace of mind, or rather a guide to a way forward.
When Should You Visit The Pathologist?
Apart from diagnosis purposes, you should visit a pathologist whenever your lipoma causes complications. In most cases, lipomas do not need treatment because they are non-cancerous and do not pose any threat to the life of the patient. However, in other situations, lipomas can be a sight for sore eyes and non-appealing. In cases of physical appearance, when the lipoma is growing bigger and bigger, then you should see a specialist.
Adding to that, if your lipoma is affecting bowel movement or constricting your blood vessels or nerves, then you need to see a pathologist immediately. Lipomas that inhibit bowel movements cause blockage, which then leads to constipation. Lipomas that affect blood vessels, bowel movements and nerves are usually hidden inside the body, making it hard to distinguish whether they are cancerous or not. Lipomas causing muscle numbness should also be taken care of.
Benign tumors hardly turn into malignant tumors. So, we can say that a lipoma cannot be cancerous. Cases where people have said that lipomas became cancerous, is when there was a wrong prognosis of the initial mass. To put it better the mass was already cancerous from its formation but it manifested as a lipoma, which is benign and non-cancerous. Therefore, appropriate diagnosis methods such as biopsies, CT-scan and MRI are important to suffice physical treatment of a mass underlying the skin. If you have a growing mass that is large and symptomatic, then ensure that you get the best diagnosis to determine its extremities.
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