A lipoma is a type of noncancerous (benign) tumor that develops in fatty tissue. Benign means that cancer doesn’t spread to other parts and is rarely dangerous.
It is the presence of fatty tissue that develops slowly under the skin of a person. Its development varies from age to age. People of any age group have the chance of developing a lipoma. However, lower age individuals rarely develop a lipoma.
Although they tend to appear on any part of the body, however, they mostly affect certain organs. These include shoulders, forearms, neck, arms, and thighs.
A lipoma is not so much harmful. Therefore, treatment is not necessary always.
It is not exactly clear what leads to lipoma. However, they usually run in families. Thus, it is obvious that genetic factors have an important role to play.
Besides, several risk factors can increase the risk of this tumor. These include a higher age of above 45 years and genetic factors. Thus, lipomas occur mostly at higher ages. However, it can still affect any age group.
Several skin tumors exist. However, a lipoma has some distinct characteristics, not present in other tumors. Generally, upon suspecting a lipoma, you will show the following symptoms: A lipoma
Feels soft on touch.
Just present under the skin
Can move easily by a finger
Have no color
Usually, lipomas are present in the neck, thighs, upper arms, forearms. However, they can also show up in areas like the back and stomach.
Furthermore, a lipoma becomes painful if it compresses the nerves that are present underneath the skin. However, there is another variant called angiolipoma which is more painful than regular lipomas.
Therefore, it is important to call your doctor if you see any changes in the skin. Often, one can confuse lipomas with another similar but rare cancer called liposarcoma.
By performing a physical examination on a patient, a doctor can diagnose a lipoma. A lipoma isn’t painful and feels soft. Furthermore, as it is made up of fatty tissues, the lipoma can easily move when you touch it.
In certain cases, a biopsy is beneficial. In this procedure, a dermatologist takes a sample of lipoma from your body. After that, he/she will examine it under a microscope. He/she notices if the cells are cancerous.
A biopsy is beneficial to rule out the possibility of a lipoma. Besides, a lipoma may sometimes mimic a liposarcoma, which is cancerous or malignant. However, a lipoma is noncancerous.
If your lipoma becomes painful as it enlarges, your doctor may try to remove it. He/she will do it to relieve pain and discomfort.
In case a lipoma is something else like a liposarcoma, at that time your doctor may order other tests. Under such circumstances, an MRI or a CT scan may become necessary.
How is lipoma treated?
Usually, a lipoma doesn’t cause any issues. It can stay in the body as such. However, you should go to a dermatologist to treat your lump if it bothers you.
He/she will look into several factors and try best to treat your tumor. The treatment depends upon the size of your tumor, the number of tumors, your medical history, and family history. It will also depend on if your lipoma is painful. Thus, the following treatment method is helpful
Surgery. Removing a lipoma by surgery is the most common way to treat it. Especially, if you have larger tumors, at that time surgery is more helpful.
Even after your doctor surgically removes a lipoma, it may grow back again. Before performing surgery, your doctor will give you a local anesthetic. Your surgeon will do this by a procedure called an excision.
Liposuction. This is another option that helps to reduce the size of a tumor. Lipomas being fat-based are removed when a specialist inserts a needle having a syringe into your skin. Before removal, he/she will numb the local area.
Steroid injections. Your doctor may use these injections on the area of the tumor. Furthermore, the treatment doesn’t completely remove the tumor, however, it can shrink it.
Coping and support
When you get diagnosed with lipoma, it could be frightening for you. The condition will be no different for your family.
However, you may learn to cope with the uncertainty and distress related to cancer with time. Thus, you need to follow these instructions until then;
Call on for medical support:
Various things are going to help you. For instance, the knowledge and understanding of a medical social worker, or any other mental health professional is necessary. They will help you in understanding your cancer.
Furthermore, if your child or other family member suffers from cancer, you need to ask health care professionals for advice. They will provide you with options for medical health support. This will also provide you with emotional and social support.
In addition to this, you can check various online services that will provide you support to combat cancer.
- Gain more knowledge about lipoma to make decisionsabout control and care:
Ask your doctor about various treatment options related to lipoma. Little knowledge is dangerous. Therefore, more confidence in understanding and making decisions about treatment options will be there with you. So you should always learn more about the disease.
Ask the health care team for guidance if your child has cancer. Therefore, get more and more information for appropriately caring for the patient.
Be close to your friends and family:
A close and strong relationship with your family and friends is necessary. It will help you deal with lipoma.
You need practical support, moral support from your friends and relatives. Thus, someone should be there for you to look after the family. Emotional support from them is going to matter most. Thus, a healthy and happy person will ultimately efficiently fight the disease.
Prepare for your appointment
You are likely to start making an appointment with your primary care doctor if some signs and symptoms worry you. Ask for a referral to an experienced specialist if your doctor suspects lipoma.
A team of specialists typically can treat. For instance;
Tumor surgeons who have specialization in operating soft tissue cancers.
Doctors who have a specialization in treating cancers with systemic medications or chemotherapy.
Pathologists diagnose the specific type of cancer by analyzing a tissue.
Rehabilitation specialists who after surgery help in the recovery of a tumor.
What you should expect from your doctor:
You will face several questions from your doctor. Thus, you should be ready to answer these. So, give more time to your doctor to address them. Your doctor may ask;
What signs and symptoms concern you more?
Have your symptoms been occasional or continuous?
When did you start to notice the symptoms?
The severity of your symptoms?
Is there anything that improves your symptoms?
Is there anything that worsens your symptoms?
Do you have any family or personal history of cancer?