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What's that lump; Vital health.

Finding lumps may seem scary but doctors say most are just harmless. This is our guide..

HAVE you ever found a strange lump and thought that it might be serious? It turns out that most are completely harmless, according to doctors. Here's our guide to the most common lumps and bumps...On your scalp Likely to be: A sebaceous cyst. What is it? "A smooth, round, painless lump caused when an oil gland gets blocked," said Glasgow GP Dr Penelope Ward.

How is it treated? "It is best left alone unless the cyst is particularly large, unsightly or becomes infected," explained Dr Ward. It can, in that case, be removed by a simple surgical procedure using local anaesthetic...On the forehead Likely to be: A seborrhoeic wart if you are an older adult.

What is it? A harmless, waxy, brown spot that looks like it is stuck on the skin. Dr Darren Simpson said: "As you get older, it darkens and takes on a warty texture so it can sometimes be mistaken for a mole or even a malignant melanoma - skin cancer."

How is it treated? Best left alone. It can't be removed for cosmetic reasons under NHS rules. But if it becomes inflamed or irritated, it may be shaven off under local anaesthetic - or frozen with liquid nitrogen, which causes the wart to crumble and drop off over several days...On your hand (or foot) Likely to be: A wart.

What is it? A small, crusty-looking lesion that appears like thickened skin. "It is caused by the human papilloma virus," said Dr Simpson. "On the hands it has a wart-looking appearance but on the feet it grows inwards, causing a painful verruca." How is it treated? "A wart will usually disappear within six months to two years without scarring," explained Dr Simpson. "There are several treatment options available from pharmacies. They range from wart paints to freezing sprays containing liquid nitrogen."

..On your wrist Likely to be: A ganglion. What is it? A fluid-filled cyst, which feels like a smooth lump under the skin on the back of the wrist. Dr Mike Burdon explained: "It is usually attached to a joint or tendon and it is often painless, unless it's next to a nerve. It varies in size from one to five centimetres."

How is it treated? They can be left alone as they will disappear over time. "If they cause discomfort, the cyst can be drained with a needle or even surgically removed under local anaesthetic," said Dr Burdon...Near your armpit Likely to be: A skin tag. What is it? A small, dangly extra growth of skin. Dr Simpson said: "Skin tags are more common as you get older and if you are overweight or have type 2 diabetes." How is it treated? "It is best left alone," added Dr Simpson. "If it is tender, it can usually be snipped off without anaesthetic - the anaesthetic stings just as much as having it removed."

..In your breast Likely to be: A fibroadenoma. What is it? A non-cancerous lump ranging from one to three centimetres that grows in breast tissue. Dr Burdon explained: "It isn't usually painful, although some women do find that they can be uncomfortable before a period is due."

How is it treated? "All breast lumps should be checked out," said Dr Burdon. "Your GP will usually refer you to a breast clinic where an ultrasound or mammogram, and possibly also a biopsy, may be done to confirm that it is a fibroadenoma." ..On your thigh Likely to be: A lipoma. What is it? "This is a benign, soft, smooth, dome-shaped rubbery lump under the skin," explained Dr Burdon. It can occur pretty much anywhere where fat cells exist.

How is it treated? "It isn't usually removed unless your GP isn't sure what it is or if it causes discomfort," added Dr Burdon. "But you should still continue to check it on a regular basis and see your GP if it changes in size, shape, form or colour."

..Around the anus Likely to be: A haemorrhoid (piles). What is it? "This feels like a pea or grape and is usually detected when you wipe your bottom and notice blood on the paper," said Dr Ward. How is it treated? Many will go away on their own if you avoid becoming constipated. A range of creams and ointments are available from pharmacies for symptom relief. But for troublesome piles, there are a variety of surgical and non-surgical treatments to remove them.

'You should check on a regular basis and see your GP if lumps change in size or shape'
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Feb 26, 2013
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