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What is a Lipoma?

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A lump that may raise more concern that it should.

An Unusual Lump

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Discovery of an unexplained subcutaneous lump anywhere on your body can be a source of considerable anxiety for you—particularly if it is under an arm or within breast tissue. Have a medical professional evaluate any mass that grows or remains for three weeks.

Irrespective of gender, a type of lump more common in individuals aged 40 to 60 is lipoma (not to be confused with lymphoma, which is cancer originating within lymphocytes or lymph nodes). Each of eight lipoma sub-types is primarily made up of fat tissues.

What is a Lipoma?

The typical lipoma differs from a liquid-filled cyst. A lipoma is generally a small, moveable, soft, rubbery lump located just beneath the skin that might not be detected without applying moderate pressure. Usually painless, lipomas are often found on the trunk, neck, back, upper thighs, armpits (lymph nodes), breasts, and upper arms singly or in groups. But they can occur virtually anywhere there are fat cells, including internal organs.

Types of Lipomas

  1. Conventional lipoma (common, mature white fat)
  2. Hibernoma (brown fat instead of the usual white fat)
  3. Fibrolipoma (fat plus fibrous tissue)
  4. Angiolipoma (fat plus a large amount of blood vessels)
  5. Myelolipoma (fat plus tissue that makes blood cells)
  6. Spindle cell lipoma (fat with cells that look like rods)
  7. Pleomorphic lipoma (fat with cells varying in shapes and sizes)
  8. Atypical lipoma (deeper fat with a larger number of cells)

Don’t Panic

Eighty percent of all breast lumps are benign. Radiology reports should reveal some vascularity within the growth to suspect cancer. Because lipomas are non-cancerous, doctors might suggest simply monitoring them without invasive intervention.

An ultrasound or CT scan may be ordered to rule out liposarcomas. These are generally painful, grow quickly and are more stationary than lipomas. Empirical evaluation takes these symptoms into consideration to determine if excision via local anesthetic is warranted for cosmetic or health reasons.

Lipomas are generally harmless and cause no discomfort so they do not affect a person’s quality of life. Lipomas rarely increase the risk of other diseases. People who choose to have their lipomas removed for cosmetic reasons seldom have much visible scarring.

If you discover a new lump during breast self exams (BSE), try not to worry. There is a higher chance of it being a benign lipoma than otherwise. Get it checked out for good health.

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