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Benign tumours of the skin
A benign tumour of the skin is a non-cancerous growth that does not spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body and is not usually life-threatening. Benign tumours of the skin are common.
A dermatofibroma is a small, reddish-brown benign growth caused by a buildup of collagen. They are most common on the legs and are more common in women than men.
An epidermal cyst is a flesh-coloured benign lump caused by a buildup of skin secretions. They are slow growing and often have an enlarged pore over the top. They are most common on the back, head and neck.
A hemangioma is a red or purple benign lump in the skin caused by blood vessel growth.
A keratoacanthoma is a round, firm, usually flesh-coloured or slightly reddish growth with a scaly or crusted centre. They are most commonly found on sun-exposed skin, such as the face, forearms and backs of the hands. Usually, they grow quickly when they first appear, then their growth slows down, and then they begin to shrink and disappear. Because their growth is often hard to predict, they may be treated as a type of squamous cell skin cancer.
A lipoma is a slow-growing benign tumour of fatty tissue. Lipomas can develop in almost any organ of the body, but most are found in the subcutaneous layer just below the skin of the neck, shoulders, back or arms.
A mole or nevus is a benign growth or spot on the skin that is usually tan, brown or flesh-coloured. Moles are made up of a cluster of melanocytes (cells that make melanin, which gives skin, hair and eyes their colour). They may be raised or flat and can be found anywhere on the body.
Seborrheic keratoses are warty, benign growths that can appear anywhere on the skin. They may be tan, brown or black raised spots with a waxy texture or rough surface. They vary in size and grow slowly. They often occur in people who are middle-aged or older. These growths are frequently confused with warts, moles, actinic keratoses and malignant melanoma skin cancer.
A skin tag is a small, soft, flesh-coloured benign skin growth. They often occur in mid-adulthood. They are most common on the neck, armpits or groin area.
Spitz nevus is a rare type of mole that looks like melanoma, but it is non-cancerous (benign). Spitz nevi occur mainly in children. A spitz nevus is usually less than 1 cm across and may resemble a small red-purple birthmark. It can be very difficult to tell the difference between a spitz nevus and a melanoma, so spitz nevi are generally removed along with a margin of healthy tissue around them. A pathologist may examine the tissue removed to determine if it is a spitz nevus or melanoma.
Support from someone who has ‘been there’
The Canadian Cancer Society’s peer support program is a telephone support service that matches cancer patients and their caregivers with specially trained volunteers.