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What are Hand Masses?

Any abnormal lump or bump on the hand can be considered a hand mass. Hand massess can occur on the skin as a mole or a wart, underneath the skin soft tissue or on the bone. Most hand masses are benign (non-cancerous); however, they can also rarely be malignant (cancerous). 

The major types of hand masses include:

Ganglion cyst: Most common mass, filled with liquid and firm to touch 

Giant cell tumor of the tendon sheath: Second most common hand mass and is solid 

Epidermal inclusion cyst: Filled with a soft, waxy material called keratin

There are other less common types of hand tumors such as lipomas (fatty tumors), neuromas (nerve tumors), fibromas, sarcomas, osteomas, and glomus tumor among others. All these are benign in nature.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Hand Masses?

Most hand masses present as visible lumps or bumps on the hand. However, the symptoms associated with these masses may vary depending on factors such as location, size, and type. Some of the symptoms include:

  • Pain in the affected area that worsens with movement
  • Hard or soft swelling that appears suddenly or gradually 
  • Loss of joint flexibility besides numbness or tingling in the hand

How are Hand Masses Diagnosed?

Your doctor will review your medical history and perform a physical examination. Oftentimes, the diagnosis can be made based on the history and physical exam. A biopsy may also be performed, where a small sample of your mass is excised and sent to the laboratory for further testing. Your doctor may also order other tests such as an X-ray, ultrasonography, CT scan or MRI depending on your condition.

How are Hand Masses Treated?

Nonsurgical treatment of hand masses may comprise reassurance, anti-inflammatory medication or use of a splint. Surgical treatment involves complete removal of the abnormal tissue located on the hand.  The surgery may be performed on an outpatient basis and may require just local anesthesia. 

In some cases, your doctor may employ aspiration (puncturing with a needle) method to reduce the mas. A cortisone injection can also be used at the growth site to prevent recurrence. Malignant tumors may require wide local excision (surgery to cut out the cancer along with some healthy tissue around it) or amputation.

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