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Benign Tumors

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Common Types of Benign Tumors continued...

Because they can cause symptoms, fibrous tissue tumors may need to be removed with surgery.

Hemangiomas are a buildup of blood vessel cells in the skin or internal organs. Hemangiomas are a common type of birthmark, often occurring in the head, neck, or trunk. They may appear red or bluish in color. Most go away on their own. Those that interfere with vision, hearing, or eating may require treatment with corticosteroids or other medication.

Lipomas grow from fat cells. They are the most common benign tumor in adults, often found in the neck, shoulders, back, or arms. Lipomas are slow growing, usually round and movable, and soft to the touch. They may run in families and sometimes they result from an injury. Treatment may be needed if a lipoma is painful or growing quickly. This may include steroid shots or removal through liposuction or surgery.

Two other types of benign fat tumors are lipoblastomas, which occur in young children, and hibernomas.

Meningiomas are tumors that develop from the membrane surrounding the brain and spinal cord. About nine in 10 are benign. Many grow slowly. Others grow more quickly. Treatment varies depending on the location of the meningioma and the symptoms it causes. Symptoms may include headache and weakness on one side, seizures, personality changes, and visual problems.

Sometimes the doctor will choose to watch the tumor for a time. If surgery is needed, its success depends on your age, the location of the tumor, and whether it is attached to anything. Radiation treatment may be used for tumors that can't be removed.

Myomas are tumors that grow from muscle. Leiomyomas grow from smooth muscle, which is found in internal organs such as the stomach and uterus. They can start in the walls of blood vessels. In the wall of the uterus, leiomyomas are often called fibroids. A rare benign tumor of skeletal muscle is rhabdomyoma. These tumors may be simply watched. To address symptoms, they may be shrunk with medication or removed with surgery.

Nevi (moles) are growths on the skin. They can range in color from pink and tan to brown or black. You may develop new moles until about age 40. Moles that look different than ordinary moles (dysplastic nevi) may be more likely to develop into a type of skin cancer (melanoma). For this reason, it is important to have your skin checked regularly by a health care professional. This is especially true if your moles look unusual, grow or change in shape, have irregular borders, or change in color or in any other way. Sometimes it is necessary to remove a mole like this to check it for signs of cancer.

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