Benign lumps and tumours

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Continuing with our series on benign lumps and tumours – abnormal swelling or growth that is not cancerous. Also check out: Common benign skin lumps and tumours, part 1

benign skin lumps and tumours, part 2

Swollen lymph nodes

Lymph nodes are found throughout the body and are an important part of our immune system, as they help the body recognize and fight germs, infections, and other foreign substances. When thy get enlarged, the term "swollen lymph nodes" is used.

Lymph nodes can become swollen from infection, inflammatory conditions, an abscess, or cancer. The most common cause of swollen lymph nodes is infection. Swollen lymph nodes can be felt in the groin, armpit, neck, under the jaw and chin, behind the ears and on the back of the head.

Treating swollen lymph nodes involves finding the cause for swelling. Blood tests, imaging studies and bacterial cultures may be done. Treatment is given according to the cause. In most cases, swelling of the lymph nodes is caused by a bacterial infection, thus antibiotics are sufficient to treat it.


A lipoma is a tumour of fat cells that occurs beneath the skin and above the muscle layer. The overlying skin, however, is normal. Lipomas feel round, rubbery and move freely when one holds it between the fingers. They occur mostly on the trunk and limbs. No treatment is usually required unless for cosmetic reasons or if it causes problems such as pain or restricts movement.

Lipomas are easily treated surgically and can be removed by a small incision in the skin.

Epidermoid cyst

Epidermoid cysts appear as raised round bumps. These are the most common cysts that occur on the skin. They tend to occur more on the face and the trunk. The cyst has a small opening in the epidermis (outer skin) and it grows like a balloon into the deeper dermis layer.

A white, firm and cheesy matter (keratin) is found in the cyst. These can sometimes be confused with sebaceous cysts, which look similar.

Usually epidermoid cysts are asymptomatic but can get red, inflamed and painful if the cyst bursts. If the cyst is infected, it is either surgically drained or treated with antibiotics depending on the severity of the condition.

A complete excision of the cyst is required for permanent cure and prevention of reoccurrence.

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