Hand tumors and wrist tumors can come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes, it may just look like an ordinary lump or bump. And while it may technically be a tumor, the tumor is not necessarily cancerous. There are many different types of hand tumors, and most are benign, which means non-cancerous. Hand tumors can be something as common as a wart or a mole, which are on top of the skin, or something more uncommon that is beneath the skin. Here are some examples of common hand tumors:
Cancer can develop in all different parts of the body, most commonly in the skin. Skin cancer is a change in your skin cells during which they grow abnormally and form a malignant tumor. Can skin cancer develop on the hands? The answer is yes.
Hand surgeon Steven H. Goldberg, MD explains olecranon bursitis:
Olecranon bursitis is a common problem that causes pain and swelling near the point of the elbow. There are several causes of olecranon bursitis. In some people we never know what causes this problem. In other people it can begin with trauma or injury to the area. Blood can fill the area, inflammation can occur, or infection can cause the problem. Infections can be either sudden or can slowly grow and become very long lasting. Depending on the cause of the bursitis, the treatment may vary considerably and may just include observation or could require surgery to clean the area.
The olecranon is the pointy part of your elbow. The olecranon bursa is one of many bursas in your body. A bursa is a type of tissue below the skin that produces fluid and helps the skin or deeper tissues move across areas where a lot of motion occurs. The olecranon bursa, for example, helps the skin slide over the olecranon as you bend or straighten the elbow. Other areas where there are bursae include the subacromial and subdeltoid (shoulder) bursa, the greater trochanteric (hip) bursa, and the prepatellar (knee) bursa. Bursitis can occur at any of these areas.
Ganglion cysts are lumps in the hand and wrist that are fairly common. They can occur in people of all ages, and the cause is unknown. Sometimes they are painful, but many times they will not affect you. Here’s how to know that you have a ganglion cyst and not a wart or different type of lump:
- The lump may be filled with clear fluid or gel.
- The lump will be oval or round in shape.
- Light is often able to pass through the lump (transillumination).
Your ganglion cyst may change in size over time or even disappear completely. Some are soft and some are firm. To treat a ganglion cyst, sometimes it may be appropriate to simply do nothing. Other times, your surgeon may recommend a splint, medication, aspiration (removing the fluid with a needle), or surgery.
Talk to your hand surgeon about the best treatment option for you. Learn more about ganglion cysts at www.HandCare.org.
A carpometacarpal boss, also known as a CMC boss or “bossing,” is a lump that appears on the back of the hand. It is typically in line with the pointer or middle finger. The exact cause of it is unknown, although sometimes they can arise from a traumatic injury or repetitive wrist motion that can happen during things like golf.
Here are some signs that you have a CMC boss:
- You notice a lump on the back of your hand
- It appeared between the ages of 20 and 40
- You feel pain when moving the wrist up or down
- You feel a snapping sensation when moving the wrist
Dr. Steven H. Goldberg answers your questions about Dupuytren’s contracture.
I noticed a new lump on the palm of my hand, and I noticed my tendon is visible and tight where I can’t fully straighten my finger. What could this be?
Dupuytren’s contracture, or fibromatosis, is a condition that can cause lumps on the palm of the hand; it also causes cords on the palm or fingers. The cord is not the tendon but rather a thickening of the fascia, a normal structure below the skin. The cord contains myofibroblasts which have a muscle-like quality that pull on the skin causing puckering, dimpling, and bending of the finger. The lumps and cords can also occur on the soles of the feet. Some people are more likely to have this disease due to genetics.
How do you know this lump is Dupuytren’s and not cancer?
Most lumps in the palm are not cancerous. Skin cancers are more common in sun-exposed areas, so a lump on the back of the hand is more likely to be cancerous compared to one on the palm. Dupuytren’s lumps in the palm of the hand most commonly form in the ring and small finger. Skin puckering or dimpling can occur, and you typically can’t fully straighten your fingers. This loss of motion is less common with other masses or tumors. Dupuytren’s lumps are typically not painful and usually do not grow much. A more worrisome bump or lump is often painful, can have rapid growth, and can either be painful at night or when resting. If a patient is very concerned about the lump, it can be surgically biopsied to confirm it is Dupuytren’s contracture.