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Benign Soft Tissue Tumors

What is a benign soft tissue tumor?


Soft tissue tumors develop when cells within the soft tissue divide uncontrollably, forming a lump or mass of abnormal tissue. They can consist of any component of the soft tissues, including: fat, connective tissue, muscle, blood vessels, nerve, or bone.

Most soft tissue tumors are benign (not cancerous) and not life-threatening. Malignant soft tissue tumors (cancerous) - also known as sarcomas - can be life-threatening and metastasize, or spread to other parts of the body.

Some common types of benign soft tissue tumors - and related conditions - include:

  • Lipoma

  • Atypical lipoma

  • Desmoid tumor

  • Elastofibroma

  • Myxoma

  • Tenosynovial giant cell tumor

  • Synovial chondromatosis

  • Hemangioma

  • Schwannoma

  • Neurofibroma

How common are benign soft tissue tumors?

Benign soft tissue tumors are extremely common. They outnumber cancerous sarcomas by a factor of at least 100. At least 30% of benign soft tissue tumors are lipomas.

What causes a benign soft tissue tumor?

For most benign soft tissue tumors, the cause is unknown.

What are symptoms of a benign soft tissue tumor?


​Most benign soft tissue tumors are not symptomatic and are discovered as a slowly growing painless mass.

How do you diagnose a benign soft tissue tumor?


​Infections and other non-tumor conditions can closely resemble benign soft tissue tumors. To be sure you have a soft tissue tumor and to determine which type, Dr. Collier will conduct a thorough evaluation and may order a number of tests, including:

  • Medical history and physical exam

  • MRI scan with and without contrast

  • Other imaging studies (XR, CT scan, Bone scan)

  • Biopsy

    • A biopsy may be necessary to confirm the diagnosis of a benign soft tissue tumor and guide treatment. There are two basic methods of performing a biopsy:

      • Needle biopsy - After given local anest​hetic or sedation, a needle is inserted into the tumor to remove some tissue. The tissue is then evaluated under a microscope to confirm the diagnosis. A needle biopsy is most often done by a radiologist.

      • Open biopsy - An open biopsy is performed in an operating room by a surgeon.

  • Blood and/or urine tests

How do you treat a benign soft tissue tumor?

Most benign soft tissue tumors do not require treatment and can be observed over time with repeat imaging. In some cases, treatment may be recommended if the tumor is growing or if it is causing pain. Dr. Collier will work with you to develop a personalized treatment plan for your specific tumor and location. 

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