Any abnormal lump or unusual growth on the hand or wrist is considered to be a tumour. The term “tumour” need not necessarily mean it is malignant or cancerous. In fact, most hand and wrist tumours are not cancerous (they are harmless) and may heal with time.
Tumours can occur either on the bone or skin in the form of a mole or a wart or under the skin in the soft tissue. There are many types of tumours as there are many types of tissue in the human hand. Skin, fat, tendons, nerves, ligaments, bone, blood vessels, etc are various types of tissues in the human body.
Ganglion Cysts: Ganglion Cysts are the most common tumour seen in the hand and wrist. Ganglion cysts are frequently seen on the wrist but can also grow at the base of fingers and around the joints of fingers. Ganglion cysts are typically filled with fluid, and the texture is firm.
Giant Cell Tumor Of The Tendon Sheath: These are the second most common type of hand tumours. These tumours are solid in texture. They are non-cancerous and slow-growing.
Epidermal Inclusion Cysts: These are another type of harmless or non-cancerous tumours that grow right under the skin where there may have been a puncture or a cut. They are filled with keratin, a soft, waxy material.
Other less common types of hand tumours include Lipomas (fatty tumours), Nerve Sheath Tumors, Neuromas (nerve tumours), Fibromas and Glomus Tumors. Almost all of these types of tumours are benign and look like odd skin growth.
A hand surgeon will do a physical examination and review of your previous medical history. This will help in determining the type of hand or wrist tumour you may have. X-rays, ultrasound, CT, MRI or bone scans that can evaluate the bones, joints and the soft tissue, might be done to narrow down the diagnosis. Needle biopsy or incisional biopsy (cutting out a small sample of the tumour) can be considered in case the hand surgeon prefers to confirm the diagnosis before recommending any treatment or surgery.
The easiest way is to get a surgical removal of the cyst/tumour. This would help the pathologist in analysing and to further determine what type of tumour it is. The analysis is a way to be on the safe side in case the tumour has a chance of relapsing and further grow into a cancerous one. These surgeries are small surgeries and are usually done on an outpatient basis.
In many cases, people choose to live with the growth if it is non-cancerous. But in rare cases, if the tumour starts getting painful, creates numbness, if the colour starts changing, or the size suddenly starts increasing, your hand surgeon may recommend a re-evaluation and treatment to avoid complications.