When to worry about a lump

While a lump popping up somewhere on, or inside, your body may seem alarming, there’s a chance that it’s not so serious. But when should you worry about your lumps?

Well, firstly, if you’re even remotely concerned, then you should see your doctor as soon as possible. The following information is by no means a substitute for diagnosis from a health professional, but it may give you an indicator of how quickly you should seek medical advice, if at all.

Cysts
If you have a lump in your body that feels like a soft grape and is tender to touch, then you may have a cyst. They usually occur in the breast or genital area and can often disappear, or pop, unnoticed. If you have one that lasts longer than a month you should have it checked out. If it’s sensitive you can apply warm, moist compresses and antibiotic cream but if it doesn’t hurt, just leave it alone.

Lipomas
Do you have a lump on your legs, torso or arms that feels like a squishy ball and moves easily? It’s most likely a fatty deposit called a lipoma. These tend to run in families and unless they are causing pain, impinging on a nerve or impeding blood flow, you could just keep an eye on them, or you can have them surgically removed by your doctor.

Thyroid nodules
Nodules can pop up in your thyroid for reasons that aren’t necessarily known, although a lack of iodine could be one cause. They’ll generally feel quite hard and immovable and you’ll find them in the lower half of your neck. Thyroid nodules are often benign but a few can be cancerous. They occur more frequently in women than men. If you have pain in the front of your neck up to your ears, your throat becomes hoarse, you have trouble swallowing, or a persistent cough then you should probably see your GP for a check-up.

Swollen lymph nodes
If you’ve located lumps around your neck (under the jaw, behind your ears or at the base of your skull), or around your armpits or groin, then you may have swollen lymph nodes. These usually occur due to a bacterial or viral infection and can be treated with warm compresses, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines and rest. However, if the lumps stick around for more than a few weeks, get to your doctor.

Fibroadenomas
A lump that feels like a smooth rubber ball that moves around inside your breast could be a fibroadenoma. Any lump in the breast is best checked by your doctor. If the lump is declared a fibroadenoma it can be left alone or removed.

Ganglion cysts
Have you found a firm or slightly spongy lump at the top of your foot, wrist or in the back of your hand? Then you may have had a ganglion cyst. These lumps can range in size, from as small as a pea to as large as a small peach and they tend to pop up after an injury. They may limit your movement for a while but will often reduce in size and disappear altogether. If it doesn’t, you may need to see a doctor to have it drained or removed.

So, when should you worry?
If you’ve found a lump that’s hard, unmovable and isn’t tender to the touch, or have a bump in the breast or genital area that lasts longer than a few weeks, or have lump that’s growing rapidly, then book in to see a doctor for a check-up as soon as possible.

Read more at WebMD

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.
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