What is a Finger Tumor?
A lump or mass in the finger is known as a finger tumor. They are also known as growth or cysts. Different factors can lead to the development of finger tumors including infection or trauma.
Finger tumors can cause discomfort, can be unsightly, and make a person feel conscious. They are mostly benign but can also be malignant. These tumors can cause tenderness or pain that can prolong the diagnosis.
Treatment for finger tumors ranges from topical to more invasive treatments. What treatment needs to be given depends on the severity of the condition.
It is important to diagnose finger tumors early as it can be helpful in the following ways:
- Early detection can be helpful in improving the prognosis as it increases the chances of a successful treatment
- Reduce the risk of complications and improve the quality of life
- It can reduce the need for the invasive treatment options
- Also, there is a cost reduction in early detection as the more intensive procedures cost more.
It is important to consult a doctor as soon as any kind of growth or unusual bump is detected.
Types of Finger Tumors
Finger tumors are of several types. Some of the common types of finger tumors include the following.
Ganglion cysts are very common types of tumors of the hand. They form in the joint capsule or nearby tissue. They can be of different sizes and appearances.
The cyst can be hard in a few and firm in others. There is mostly gel-like fluid in the cysts.
Ganglion cysts are mostly non-cancerous and are unlikely to spread to other areas. These may cause discomfort in some people and the doctor may recommend aspiration or surgical removal of the cyst.
Giant Cells Tumor of the Tendon Sheath
These are the non-cancerous tumors that can grow from the inner lining of the tendon sheath. These cause pain and discomfort. These are the 2nd most common tumors that may affect the fingers and have a high occurrence rate.(1)
Giant cell tumors grow slowly and develop over a few months to years.(2) These are solid tumors and are not fluid-filled.
Warts are caused by the Human papillomavirus (HPV). These can easily spread from one person to another.
Warts have a rough and bumpy texture and some may also present as cauliflower or mushroom.
Epidermal Inclusion Cyst
Epidermal inclusion cyst is common in occurrence but is unlikely to be cancerous.(3) It generally occurs at the sight of a previous injury.
This tumor has keratin in the center, which is a protein present in the skin, hair, and nails.
These are the growth that occurs in the cartilage of the bones in the hands.
Mostly these tumors do not cause any symptoms and rarely become cancerous.
Glomus tumor is a rare type of tumor that occurs in small clusters.(4) These clusters are also known as glomus bodies.
These are benign tumors but can be cancerous. About 75% of these tumors are known to occur in the hand and 65% are in the fingertips.(5)
The glomus tumors are painful.
Acral Lentiginous Melanoma
This type of skin cancer is found in the palm and soles. Its occurrence is less common in the hands. These are sometimes found in the fingernails.
Acral lentiginous melanoma presents as a flat brown lesion on the skin that is raised. If diagnosed early they surely have a better prognosis.
Causes of Finger Tumors
The causes of finger tumors may vary depending on the type of tumor. There are a few factors that may contribute to the development of finger tumors.
- Genetic factors: Some of the finger tumors such as enchondromas may be caused due to genetic inheritance.
- Trauma: An injury or trauma to the finger may lead to a tumor in the bone and soft tissue.
- Exposure to Radiation: There can be an increase in the risk of tumors on exposure to radiation
- Infection: Chronic infections can also be the cause of the development of tumors on fingers.
- Age: This can be another factor for the development of tumors. As a person ages, the skin gets thinner and more prone to injury. This may trigger tumor growth. The occurrence of a wart tumor called seborrheic keratosis increases with age.(6)
Symptoms of Finger Tumors
The symptoms of a tumor vary depending on the type of tumor, its severity, and its location.
Some of the common symptoms of finger tumors include:
- Pain: Pain in the affected finger or hand
- Swelling: There may be swelling or lump on a particular finger
- Limited Range Of Motion: The movement of the affected finger may be limited especially if the tumor is located on the tendon or a joint
- Skin Texture And Color: There may be changes in the color and texture of the skin. The skin above the tumor may be discolored, thickened, or lumpy
- Numbness: A person may feel weakness or numbness in the affected hand or finger
- Fractures: Bone tumors in the finger may make the bone more prone to fractures
Most of these symptoms may be in common with other conditions as well. It is, therefore, important to consult a doctor if the presence of a lump or any of the above symptoms is observed.
Diagnosis of Finger Tumor
To diagnose finger tumors, the doctor uses a combination of physical examination, imaging test, and biopsy.
- Physical Examination: The step towards diagnosing a finger tumor begins with an examination of the lump, bump, or any abnormality present in the finger.
- Blood Test: Blood tests are ordered to look for the presence of any infection or inflammation.
- Imaging Test: The size, location, and type of tumor are detected with the help of imaging tests including X-ray, MRI and CT scans. These may help in detecting any unusual growths and also assess the surrounding bones and joints.
- Biopsy: In some tumors, a small sample is taken and sent to the laboratory for analysis. This helps determine whether the tumor is benign or cancerous and the appropriate treatment for it.
The patient may be referred to a hand surgeon, orthopedic surgeon, or an oncologist depending on the type, size, and site of the tumor.
Early diagnosis is key to successful treatment. Sometimes people experience symptoms for a long time before being diagnosed.(7) Therefore, any abnormal growth if noticed should be examined by a healthcare professional.
Treatment of Finger Tumors
The treatment of finger tumors may vary depending on whether the tumor is benign or cancerous.
The various treatment options include:
Surgery: This is the preferred treatment if the tumor is cancerous and is causing discomfort. The purpose of surgery is to remove cancer and restore or preserve the mobility of the finger.
Radiation Therapy: This can be used after surgery to destroy the remaining cancer cells.
Chemotherapy: It is used in rare cases of aggressive and metastatic tumors.
Medication: Topical treatments such as salicylic acid may be recommended for finger warts.(6) Cryotherapy is also used to freeze the wart with liquid nitrogen. Antibiotics are prescribed to prevent infection and manage some symptoms.
The prognosis of a finger tumor depends on the type of tumor, its severity, how early it is diagnosed, and how the treatment is tailored. For benign tumors, the prognosis is mostly good. In the case of a malignant tumor, it may depend on the grade of the tumor along with the person’s age and overall health.
Prevention of Finger Tumors
There is nothing that can prevent finger tumors from occurring, but there are a few things that can lower the risk. These include:
- Wear appropriate gadgets on the hands before handling any machinery or tools to reduce the risk of injury.
- Seek medical advice as soon as any unusual symptoms are noticed on the hands and fingers.
- Eat a healthy and balanced diet and keep away from alcohol and tobacco to lower overall cancer risk.
- Regular check-ups with a doctor can be helpful in detecting and treating any unusual symptoms at the earliest.
Finger tumors can be bothering and it is important to get medical help as soon as any symptom is noticed or there is growth on fingers and hands. Benign tumors may not cause any long-term complications and may be treated easily, while malignant tumors may require more aggressive treatment. Early diagnosis is considered a key to improving the outlook of a person and complete recovery.