I have a tumor in my hand that was removed several years ago. I saw a TV show that said benign tumors like mine can come back and that some benign tumors go malignant. Now I'm worried it might happen to me. What can you tell me about this?
Benign tumors of the hand are fairly common. They can affect the bone (e.g., osteoid osteoma, cysts, giant cell tumors), cartilage (e.g., osteochondroma, enchondroma, periosteal chondroma, fibromas), fat/connective tissue (e.g., lipomas, giant cell tumor of tendon sheath), nerves (e.g., Schwannoma, neurofibroma), and blood vessels (e.g., glomus tumor).
Many benign tumors of the hand recur or come back after being removed. In growing children, this can be a problem because of how fast and how large these tumors can become. Most benign hand tumors do not convert to a malignant type. The type most likely to metastasize (spread) are giant cell tumors of the bone.
Anyone who is diagnosed with this type of tumor will automatically have a chest X-ray and/or CT scan ordered. Metastasis to the lungs is the first place malignancy might be observed.
If you are at risk for conversion from a benign to malignant tumor, your physician will monitor you for any signs of malignancy. Fast growth of a lump or bump, the formation of new lumps/bumps, increasing pain, or any other suspicious signs and symptoms must be reported to your primary care physician or hand surgeon right away.
If you are wondering what your risk of recurrence or conversion may be, find out the exact diagnosis (type of tumor) and ask if it is likely to come back or metastasize. This information may give you peace of mind and/or direction for future follow-up.
William T. Payne, MD, and Greg Merrell, MD. Benign Bony and Soft Tissue Tumors of the Hand. In The Journal of Hand Surgery. November 2010. Vol. 35A. No. 11. Pp. 1901-1910.
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