We all want to be healthy looking, trim and fit. However, our bodies sometimes have other plans for us, and we are presented with lumps and bumps.

Most of these might turn out to be benign (not cancerous), but without proper investigation, we cannot be sure.

Having these attended to and sorted out while they are still small and manageable, is far better than waiting until they are large and painful. Larger lesions result in more complex surgical excisions and reconstruction to “close the hole” becomes more challenging.

Your general practitioner or dermatologist can often remove smaller lesions (lumps and bumps), such as fatty cysts, unwanted moles, warts or skin tags – and the sooner you consult them about these, the easier they are to remove. More complex and larger lesions, or lesions situated in more sensitive areas can be removed by plastic surgeons, and often on an outpatient basis in specialized procedure rooms, ensuring that the experience is safe, comfortable and stress-free.

Is your lump and bump a mass, a tumour or a cyst?

In most cases lumps and bumps are caused by a multiplication of cells that have lost their ability to control their replication, or lost their original functional capabilities, and have begun to spread outside the confines of their original anatomic boundaries. Sometimes they expand with cells or with tissue fluids (like sebaceous cysts that fill up with sebum), and they can cause harm by pressing on and destroying adjacent structures if they expand. Sometimes they are just annoying or unsightly.

Other times, however, they can be the first sign of cancer, and ignoring them can lead to devastating effects, including death, as in the case of malignant melanoma.
If you are confused by all the terms you hear, I hope this will help a bit:

Lesions: This is a generic term used in medicine to refer to an organ or tissue that has suffered damage through injury or disease. Wounds, ulcers, abscesses, skin cancers and cysts can all be called lesions, until they have been properly examined and specifically defined or named.

Mass: This is another generic term used to refer to an abnormal volume of tissue, which can be seen, felt or seen radiographically.

Tumour:  The word “tumour” is a Latin term that simply means swelling, however, that is not how it is used by the public, and the word often is associated with cancer. A benign tumour is not cancerous, and cannot spread through the body, while a malignant tumour, or cancer, can break away from the main tumour and spread through the body.

So instead of being frightened or confused – please have your lumps and bumps assessed by a professional (your GP or dermatologist are the best people to do the initial assessment; they will refer you further for surgical management if that is necessary). “It is probably nothing” is not the correct approach. Do not entrust your future well-being to family and friends, to Professor Google or your own intuition. You are far too precious for that.