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What are lipomas?
Lipomas are benign (not cancerous), slow-growing tumors that come from fat cells. They are usually round, moveable, flattened lumps under the skin. They feel soft and doughy or rubbery. Lipomas usually grow in the neck, shoulders, back or arms. Lipomas are the most common noncancerous tumor in adults. They can occur at any age, but they often appear when you’re between 40 and 60 years of age. Sometimes they run in families. Sometimes they are caused by an injury. Most lipomas do not hurt unless they are squeezed or bruised.
What are the symptoms of a lipoma?
Usually a lipoma has been growing for years before it is noticeable. It is fairly common to have more than one lipoma. If you notice a lump or swelling anywhere on your body, you should have it checked by your family healthcare provider. In some cases, a lump can be a sign of a more serious problem.
DIAGNOSIS & TESTS
How will my healthcare provider diagnose a lipoma?
Tests are usually not needed to diagnose a lipoma. Your healthcare provider can usually diagnose it just by looking at it and feeling the firmness of the lump.
How are lipomas treated?
Because lipomas are almost always benign, they usually do not need treatment. If they are painful or are growing quickly, you may want to have treatment. Treatment options include steroid shots, liposuction or surgery to remove the lipoma. Your healthcare provider can help you decide what is right for you.
QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
- Does having lipomas make me more likely to develop cancer?
- Is there anything I can do to prevent lipomas in the future?
- Will I need surgery to remove the lipoma?
- Are there any web sites you recommend where I can find information about lipomas?
- If I notice another swelling on my body, do I need to see my healthcare provider?
- Are there any problems that I may experience from my treatment, or from waiting to begin treatment?
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Canadian Cancer Society website:
Lipoma Excision by GA Salam MD, DO (03/01/02, http://www.aafp.org/afp/20020301/901.html)