What are Hand Tumors?
A tumor is a blanket term for any abnormal mass or bump. There is a misconception, however, that all tumors are cancerous, when in fact most tumors are benign. The hand is a fairly common location for tumors, and because of the many different types of tissue, different tumors can form (skin, muscle, fat, tendon, bone) both on the skin and underneath it. The most common type of tumor that doctors see in hands is a ganglion cyst, which is a fluid filled abscess that occurs beneath the skin, either well within the wrist/hand or right near the surface, causing a noticeable bump. Another common type of hand tumor is a giant cell tumor of tendon sheath, which is exactly what it sounds like; a tumor on the tendon sheath formed from abnormally large cells. It is not known what causes these benign tumors, but trauma is suspected.
What causes Hand Tumors?
Benign tumors of the hand have various causes. As mentioned above, giant cell tendon sheath tumors may be caused by trauma, and this is true of many types of hand tumors. Epidermal inclusion cysts, another common variety of hand tumor, are formed when a finger is injured, and the skin cells that would normally slough off the body get trapped underneath the skin, but continue to secrete keratin, thus forming the cyst. Tumors can also form as the hand’s reaction to a foreign body, as when a splinter causes the skin to form a tumor around the wound site. Less common, but no less important, are bone tumors, which grow directly on the bone, unlike most other tumors, which are fleshy.
Cancer is a very real fear when you find a tumor on your body, and even though the vast majority of hand tumors prove to be benign, it is not unknown for cancerous tumors to grow there as well. For this reason, it is always good to have a tumor seen by a doctor, so that cancer can be ruled out as a cause…
Symptoms of Hand Tumors
Most hand tumors are visible on the surface of the hand and wrist, whether they form directly on the skin or beneath it. This is variable however, and ganglion cysts are a good example of this. Oftentimes, ganglion cysts sit right below the surface, and form a visible hemispherical lump on the wrist or the hand, which makes it easy to pinpoint their location and go ahead with treatment, but almost as often, ganglion cysts form well beneath the surface, within the wrist itself, and are completely undetectable from the outside. If the tumor occurs on the bone, or is very near a nerve, then it will cause pain in the hand, but often, there is no pain at all associated with common tumors, which leads to the tumor not being diagnosed until it begins to cause problems from a large size.
How to diagnose Hand Tumors
To diagnose a hand tumor, the doctor must first take a detailed history and perform an in depth physical examination, to determine the source, if any, of trauma and where the irritation is occurring. If there is a concern that the bone might be involved, then X-rays will be taken to confirm or deny. An MRI is usally necessary to provide more information on the location and makeup of the mass.
Primary Lymphoma of Capitate (Rare)
Surgical Treatment of Hand Tumors
Most often, the best option is to surgically remove the tumor, as excision has the lowest rate of recurrence, meaning that the tumor is very unlikely to come back. This is almost always an outpatient surgery with only local anesthetic in many cases, and will have you back out in the world the same day. In the case of ganglion cysts, or other fluid filled tumors, they can be aspirated or injected, but the instances of recurrence are much higher than with surgery. It is also recommended to have surgery, because that way the tumor can be sent to a pathology lab and it can be definitively determined what type of tumor it is. It is also not uncommon for patients, once they have determined that a tumor is benign, to forego treatment altogether, and simply live with the tumor. This isn’t advised by doctors, however, because even if the tumor is benign, it will no doubt continue to grow as time goes on, and could cause problems for the nervous or vascular system as it does so.
How can Dr. Knight help you with Hand Tumors?
Hand tumors can be painful and they may impede the use of the hand. Even if your tumor proves to be benign, Dr. Knight understands the trouble it can be to have this growth on your hand. Dr. Knight will take into account his medical expertise as well as your requirements to craft a treatment plan that fits with your life and schedule.
HandAndWristInstitute.com does not offer medical advice. The information presented here is offered for informational purposes only. Read Disclaimer