Ganglion Cysts & Soft Tissue Tumors
Have you noticed a new lump on your hand? Are you worried it may be something serious? In most cases, lumps on the hands and wrists are either ganglion cysts or soft tissue tumors, noncancerous growths that are usually harmless. They don’t always require treatment, but may cause pain and interfere with movement, especially when they form near joints or tendons. It is also important to rule out malignancy whenever you notice such changes in your skin. At Cayman Surgery, Dr. Ebanks can take a careful look at your concerns to establish a diagnosis and develop a treatment plan. Keep reading to learn more about ganglion cysts or soft tissue tumors and how they’re treated.
Ganglion cysts are noncancerous lumps that usually appear on the wrist and hand. They are small and filled with a jelly-like fluid. Also known as bible cysts or bible bumps, ganglion cysts account for 60 percent of all hand masses.
Nobody knows what exactly causes them. What we do know is that they grow from mesenchymal cells as a result of repetitive, continuous injury to joints and tendons.
Ganglion cysts look like round or oval lumps beneath the skin. They often form around the tendons or joints of the hands. Ganglion cysts can vary in size and shape and may grow larger as you use the affected area.
Other signs and symptoms include:
- Size. Ganglion cysts range in size but are usually less than an inch. They can grow or shrink over time.
- Location. Most ganglion cysts appear on the back of the wrist, but they can also appear on the front of the wrist, the base of a finger or below a fingernail.
- Feel. They are usually firm to the touch and may even feel bony. Most are movable. Some ganglion cysts may cause pain if they compress a nearby nerve.
If a ganglion cyst grows underneath a joint, it can affect movement and cause pain. Luckily, most cases of ganglion cysts are self-limiting and resolve spontaneously within six months. In other cases, they can become painful, or their location can interfere with the normal use of the hand. In these cases, it is best to remove the ganglion cyst by surgical excision.
Dr. Ebanks is experienced in treating ganglion cysts in all locations and performs many of the procedures at Cayman Surgery using local anesthesia with or without sedation. Ganglion cysts can recur, so it is important to monitor the area after surgery to determine if additional treatment will be required.
Soft Tissue Tumors
Soft tissue tumors are abnormal bumps or lumps that form on or underneath the skin. They can appear anywhere on the body, but account for a great majority of new lumps on the hand and wrist. Unlike ganglion cysts, which are small sacs filled with fluid, soft tissue tumors are solid masses of abnormal cells.
Generally speaking, tumors develop when cells grow or divide more than they should. Tumors can be benign or cancerous. Benign masses do not spread to other parts of the body, while cancers (malignant tumors) have the potential to metastasize. Most hand and wrist tumors are benign and include:
- Ganglion cysts
- Giant cell tumors of the tendon sheath
- Glomus tumors
- Nerve sheath tumors
To pinpoint the precise cause and type of hand tumor you may have, Dr. Ebanks will look at your full medical history and perform a thorough physical exam. In some cases, x-rays, ultrasound or MRI may also be required, particularly if the tumor is located well under the surface of the skin. Once a diagnosis is made, Dr. Ebanks can determine the logical course of treatment, whether it is conservative or surgical.
Dr. Ebanks offers both surgical and non-surgical treatment options to her patients diagnosed with ganglion cysts or soft tissue tumors of the hand.
Non-surgical treatment options for ganglion cysts include hand splints or braces, anti-inflammatory medication and fine-needle aspiration. Hand splints are medical devices that a patient wears to prevent excessive hand movement and facilitate healing. Anti-inflammatory drugs may be used alongside hand splints to reduce pain or discomfort. Fine-needle aspiration is a relatively non-invasive procedure where a surgeon removes the fluid found in the cyst using a thin needle.
In cases where a ganglion cyst is causing significant problems, surgical removal or excision of the ganglion cyst is often recommended. This is an outpatient procedure with high success rates and minimal complications. Surgeons usually remove both the cyst and the underlying joint capsule or tendon sheath (called the root of the ganglion), greatly reducing the risk of recurrence.
Soft tissue tumor treatment depends on the type of tumor present, which is determined through examination, scans and occasionally biopsy. Some do not require any treatment, while others need to be surgically removed. If your soft tissue tumor is found to be malignant, Dr. Ebanks will work with you to develop a treatment plan and may utilize her extensive network of referral on and off island.
Make an Appointment
If you have a new growth on your hand or wrist, contact us today to schedule an appointment with Dr. Tanja Ebanks at Cayman Surgery. Dr. Tanja Ebanks is a highly trained general surgeon with years of experience treating a wide range of hand disorders, including ganglion cysts and soft tissue tumors. She will carefully assess your condition and find the best treatment option for your case. To learn more or schedule a consultation, call Dr. Ebanks today at +1 345 946 0067 to book your appointment. You can also fill out our online contact form to receive a callback at a more convenient time. You can message Cayman Surgery directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How are ganglion cysts diagnosed?
A specialist can often diagnose a ganglion cyst after a physical examination. At other times, they may recommend x-ray, ultrasound or MRI imaging to rule out other conditions.
Can ganglion cysts come back after surgery?
Ganglion cysts have a 50 percent recurrence rate following fine-needle aspiration. However, it is rare for the cyst to reappear following surgical removal.
Who can remove ganglion cysts and soft tissue tumors?
Hand surgeons, general surgeons,orthopedic and plastic surgeons can all remove ganglion cysts and soft tissue tumors. Dr. Ebanks is a highly experienced general surgeon with years of specialized training in hand and plastic surgery. She has helped numerous patients diagnosed with these conditions.
What is the recovery time after ganglion cyst or hand tumor removal?
Hand surgery procedures are performed on an outpatient basis, so expect initial recovery to be fairly quick. However, full recovery from any type of hand surgery usually takes a couple of weeks up to 3 month before you can start using your hand as usual. You may also have a splint for the first few weeks.
Is a soft tissue mass always cancer?
Only a small percentage of soft tissue tumors turn out to be cancer, including those that appear on the hand or wrist.