What is a lump?

A lump is a protuberance or localized area of swelling that can occur anywhere on the body. Other terms used to describe the various types of lumps include bump, nodule, contusion, tumor and cyst. Lumps can be caused by any number of conditions, including infections, inflammation, tumors or trauma. Depending on the cause, lumps may be single or multiple, soft or firm, painful or painless. They may grow rapidly or may not change in size.

Lumps due to local infectious causes may appear as boils or abscesses. Many types of infections cause the lymph nodes to enlarge and feel like lumps, most commonly in the neck, near the jawbone, in the armpits, or in the groin. Traumatic causes of lumps range from bug bites to severe injuries that can produce a localized collection of blood in the tissues (hematoma).

Both benign and malignant tumors of the skin, soft tissues, or organs can sometimes feel like lumps. In these cases, either a biopsy or surgical removal of the lump can determine whether cancer is present. Cysts, which are fluid-filled, sac-like structures that can form in various parts of the body, often feel like lumps. Some cysts may be present at birth, while others develop as a result of inflammation, tumors, or wear-and-tear over time.

Conditions that produce inflammation throughout the body, such as rheumatoid arthritis, may be associated with lumps. Lumps located in the thyroid gland may cause symptoms related to hormonal imbalance, including rapid heart rate, sweating, restlessness, and weight loss.

Lumps caused by infection, inflammation or trauma are usually temporary and subside as the underlying condition resolves. Lumps that persist or continue to grow over time may signal more serious conditions such as tumors. A lump on the head that is associated with an injury may signal bleeding in the brain or another emergency and may have life-threatening complications. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you have a lump on the head as a result of an injury.

If you have any lump that is persistent or causes you concern, seek prompt medical care.

SYMPTOMS

What other symptoms might occur with a lump?

A lump may be accompanied by other symptoms, depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Certain conditions that cause lumps may also involve other body systems.... Read more about lumpsymptoms

CAUSES

What causes a lump?

Lumps have many possible causes, including trauma, infections, inflammatory diseases, benign cysts and tumors, and cancers.... Read more about lumpcauses

Medical Reviewer: All content has been reviewed by board-certified physicians under the direction of Rich Klasco, M.D., FACEP. Last Annual Review Date: May 2, 2011 Copyright: © Copyright 2011 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Infections and Contagious Diseases, Cancer


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