What are Benign Soft Tissue Tumors?
Benign soft tissue tumors are noncancerous tumors that develop in the soft tissues of the body such as the ligaments, blood vessels, nerves, and muscles. These tumors are more common than bone tumors. They differ widely in the symptoms they cause and their appearance.
Types of Benign Soft Tissue Tumors
Some of the common types of benign soft tissue tumors include:
- Angiolipoma: These tumors are present in the adipose tissue containing blood vessels.
- Neurofibroma: This kind of tumor develops in the nervous system.
- Hemangiomas: These tumors develop in the blood vessels.
- Schwannomas: These tumors are present in the Schwann cells, which are special cells that support and protect of the nerve cells.
- Lipoma: These tumors develop in the fat tissue present under the skin.
- Granular cell tumors: These tumors develop in the skin and mucosal layers. About 40% of the time they occur on the tongue.
- Desmoid tumor: These tumors usually develop in the connective tissue of the legs, abdomen, and arms and invade nearby tissue.
- Intramuscular myxoma: These tumors are present in the large muscles of the limbs, shoulder, and buttocks.
- Elastofibroma: This usually develops in the chest wall and lower part of the shoulder blade.
Causes of Benign Soft Tissue Tumors
The cause of benign soft tissue tumors is unknown, however, they have been linked to:
- Genetic factors
- Exposure to chemicals
Symptoms of Benign Soft Tissue Tumors
Signs and symptoms of benign soft tissue tumors may vary based on their type and location. They include pain and swelling from compression to surrounding structures.
Diagnosis of Benign Soft Tissue Tumors
Your doctor will review your medical history and symptoms and based on these, certain diagnostic tests will be recommended such as:
- Computed Tomography (CT) Scan: This test uses multiple x-rays to produce detailed cross-sectional images of the soft tissue to detect the tumor.
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Scan: This is an imaging study that uses a large magnetic field and radio waves to detect the tumor.
- Tissue biopsy: A small sample of the tumor is taken and observed under the microscope.
- Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scan: This test involves injecting a small amount of radioactive material that is absorbed by the tumor cells.
Treatment for Benign Soft Tissue Tumors
Treatment for benign soft tissue tumors may vary based on the location and type of tumors.
Tumors that are slow-growing and not causing any symptoms may just need to evaluated on a regular basis. If the tumor is causing symptoms, surgery may be recommended to remove it with minimal damage to surrounding healthy tissues.