Benign soft tissue tumors are noncancerous tumors. These tumors can develop anywhere you have soft tissue such as your muscles, tendons and fat. Treatment may include surgery to remove the tumor and/or radiation therapy to keep the tumor from coming back.
Benign soft tissue tumors are noncancerous lumps under your skin. They develop anywhere you have soft tissue such as your muscles, tendons and fat. Depending on your situation, your healthcare provider may recommend surgery to remove the tumor and/or radiation therapy to keep the tumor from coming back (recurring).
There are dozens of soft tissue tumor types. Some of the more common tumor types include:
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You can have this condition without having symptoms. Common symptoms may include:
Medical researchers don’t know all the reasons people develop benign soft tissue tumors. Some people inherit conditions that cause soft tissue tumors. Other soft tissue tumors happen when genes mutate or change during a person’s lifetime.
Your healthcare provider will take a thorough medical history. They may ask how long you’ve had the lump or bump and if it’s growing. They may ask about any recent injury that may explain why you have a lump. They’ll do a physical examination.
They may do imaging tests, too. Providers may be able to diagnose some benign soft tissue tumors with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). However, providers occasionally will do biopsies to diagnose benign soft tissue tumors. (A biopsy involves taking a sample of tumor tissue.) Medical pathologists examine tissue samples under a microscope to determine if the tumor is benign or cancerous.
Remember, a benign soft tissue tumor isn’t cancer. Benign soft tissue tumors are about 10 times more common than malignant or cancerous soft tissue tumors.
In general, you could have cause for concern if a bump or lump that’s a soft tissue tumor affects your quality of life. For example, soft tissue tumors that affect your nerves can be very painful. Some benign soft tissue tumors may grow large enough to press on your organs and affect their function. If you develop a soft tissue tumor, ask your healthcare provider what you can expect.
A small soft tissue tumor that isn’t causing issues may not require treatment. Providers typically do surgery to remove benign soft tissue tumors that cause issues like pain or that affect organ function.
Unfortunately, you can’t prevent most benign soft tissue tumors. What you can do is be aware of changes in your body that may be signs of a soft tissue tumor. While most soft tissue tumors are benign (noncancerous), some are cancerous. Talk to a healthcare provider if you have a lump or bump that doesn’t go away.
In general, benign soft tissue tumors don’t cause significant health issues. But large tumors that press on nerves and organs may cause issues. In that case, providers may recommend surgery to remove the tumor.
The best thing you can do is be aware of changes in your body. Talk to a healthcare provider if you notice new lumps or bumps that appear to grow.
You may want to ask the following questions:
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Questionable lumps and bumps are among the top reasons people visit healthcare providers. Sometimes, those lumps and bumps are benign soft tissue tumors. These tumors aren’t cancer but they can affect your quality of life. Talk to a healthcare provider if you have a lump or bump that doesn’t go away. You may not need treatment, but knowing a lump or bump isn’t cancer will give you peace of mind.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 03/29/2023.
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