The skin, underlying fat, muscle or lymph nodes are common origins for soft tissue masses. These may present as small lumps, bumps or cysts or can progress to larger swellings. They can appear anywhere on the body, but are more common in the head and neck, as well as on the limbs.
There are many causes for these soft tissue masses, fortunately the majority of the them are benign and slow growing.
Sometimes further testing including sonars, CT scans and biopsy is required to make a diagnosis. Surgery is usually required to remove the masses.
If you are concerned that your child has an unusual lump/bump or swelling it is important to consult your doctor timeously.
Common examples of soft tissue masses are haemangiomas and lymphatic malformations/lymphangiomas.
A haemangioma is an abnormal growth of blood vessels just below the surface of the skin. These are usually first noticed a few weeks after birth but may also be present at birth. They initially get larger over time. Sometimes what first appeared as a small pink spot can startle parents as it grows rapidly over a few weeks to months. The natural history is that most haemangiomas will shrink again over time, although this can take years. Recently doctors have started using medication to treat haemangiomas causing them to shrink at a much more rapid rate. This has replaced surgery to a large extent. Some haemangiomas do not respond as well to medication and may require surgery if they become complicated or are in sensitive areas, specifically around the eyes and mouth.
Lymphangiomas or lymphatic malformations are abnormal growths of lymphatic tissue. They most commonly occur in the neck area and may become quite large. These are sometimes present at birth or may only become apparent later on in life. There are different treatment options available including surgery and or injection of a sclerosing agent directly into the lymphangioma. Dr Stevens will assess your child and help in deciding what would be the most appropriate course of action in each case.