Got a strange growth on your body that you’re concerned about? Many of us automatically assume the worst when it comes to these unexplained lumps and bumps, but more often than not they’re fairly harmless. For those that want the peace of mind, here’s a brief guide to help you determine whether you should be worried or not.
Where is it located?
Certain lumps are common on certain parts of the body. Round, movable lumps on the shoulders or chest can sometimes be lipomas – as unsightly as they are, they’re completely harmless. Growths under the skin in the groin or coming out of the belly button meanwhile are likely to be hernias, which can be easily treated. As for swelling around the throat or armpits, this could be a glandular problem. That isn’t to say that you can’t also get dangerous lumps in these areas, but it’s worth considering these other options first.
Is it soft or hard?
Tumors tend not to be soft, but instead rather hard. If you’ve got a soft growth on your body, it’s probably something else. The exception is ganglions, which are hard – these are cysts that are most common on the hands or feet. Ganglions are generally harmless.
Is it painful?
Pain could actually be a positive sign in many cases. Tumors are generally not painful to begin with unless hemmed in the brain. If you are experiencing aching, it’s more likely to be a cyst, an abscess or a hernia. Hernias tend to hurt most when lifting things or doing physical tasks, whilst cysts may only hurt when touches. Abscesses meanwhile often cause constant pain.
Should I get it checked?
There’s no harm in getting your lump checked by a doctor – in fact, it’s recommended that you do. Diagnostic imaging may be able to determine exactly what the lump is. You may even be assigned to a dermatologist who can more easily diagnose it.
Most lumps won’t need urgent attention, unless you’re suffering significant pain. If it’s around your mouth or throat, you may want to worry if it’s affecting breathing or your ability to swallow. Drastic weight loss and unexplained night sweats can also be a dangerous sign – if the growth is in on your neck, armpit or groin it could be a nasty gland infection known as a lymphoma, which you may also want to seek immediate attention for.
Changes in shapes and size are also worth keeping note of. If a lump is continuously growing at a rapid speed, chances are that it will only continue to grow, so you may want to get it seen to promptly. Changes in shape, especially when it comes to moles, can also be a dangerous sign and are worth seeing your doctor about ASAP.