Managing abnormal growth on the body

Managing abnormal growth on the body

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Mr. Y.A., a patient of mine, noticed a lump on the back of his arm about five years ago. It wasn’t too bad at first, so he just let it be. He didn’t really mind. Then, it got bigger; and he started to hide it and became very self conscious about it.

He later developed the courage to show it to a friend who said it was just a boil and that he didn’t need it to be removed. His friend also assured him that it wouldn’t get any bigger. The friend advised him to apply Vaseline and shea butter, which he did religiously.

Mr. Y.A. was, however, surprised that the lump got bigger and started to hurt against his arm – a situation that affected him psychologically.

It will be worth mentioning that not all growths on the body are boils. Lipomas (fat cells) are commonly found in adults, but they can also be found in children. Lipoma is a growth of fat cells in a thin, fibrous capsule usually found just below the skin.

Lipomas are found most often on the neck, trunk, upper thighs, upper arms, and armpits; but they can occur almost anywhere in the body. They are soft to the touch, usually movable, and are generally painless. Many lipomas are small but can become enlarged. One or more lipomas may be present at the same time.

Lipomas are the most common non cancerous soft tissue growth.


The cause of lipomas is not completely understood, but the tendency to develop them is inherited. For one, a minor injury may trigger the growth; though being overweight does not cause lipomas.


Lumps are felt just under the skin, they are movable and have a soft, rubbery consistency. They may not cause pain, they may remain the same size over the years or grow very slowly. They may increase in size, thus making the lipoma noticeable by others.


There is no known treatment to prevent lipomas or affect their growth. Lipomas are normally removed by simple excision. The removal can often be done under local anaesthesia, and takes less than 30 minutes. This cures the majority of cases.

If the lipoma is in an area of the body that cannot be easily reached through a simple incision in the skin – as in the case of anal lipoma – the lipoma may need to be removed in the operating room under general anaesthesia by a surgeon.

As a rule, when the lipoma is removed, it is sent for histology to rule out any evidence of malignancy (cancer).


Ganglion cysts are the most common mass or lump in the hand. They are not cancerous and, in most cases, are harmless. They occur in various locations, but most frequently develop on the back of the wrist.


It is not known what triggers the formation of a ganglion. They are most common in younger people between the ages of 15 and 40 years, and women are more likely to be affected than men.


Most ganglions form a visible lump; however, smaller ganglions can remain hidden under the skin. Although many ganglions produce no other symptoms, if a cyst puts pressure on the nerves that pass through the joint, it can cause pain or tingling,


Surgery (excision) is typically an outpatient procedure and patients are able to go home after the excision.

Bumps and keloids are entirely different conditions and they are managed differently, as they are due to hypertrophy, such as inflammation, on the skin.

The Graceland Hernia Foundation, a non-governmental and non-profit organisation is organising a surgical mission next month in Ajah, Lagos, where all forms of growths, lipomas, lumps, as well as hernias and hydrocoeles in children, the young and the elderly will be operated on after necessary screenings.

Date: Friday, May 1 and Saturday, May 2, 2015.Time: 8:00am.

Contact details: 08023724546, 08186549147

The leader of the surgical team is Dr. Paul Jesuyajolu, the founder of Graceland Hernia Foundation, and executive member of the National Association of Rural Surgical Practitioners of Nigeria. He is also a member of the Association of Rural Surgeons of India.


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