What’s that lump? From bumps in your bottom to swellings on your finger, doctor reveals what they REALLY mean

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Written By Rivera Claudia

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  • Lumps could be caused by anything from cysts, bony growths or cancer
  • Doctor urges people to visit their GP if they have a lump they are worried about 

Our bodies are in constant flux, changing and evolving. So it’s common for lumps and bumps to develop anywhere on the body.

Often, these are harmless. 

However, there are times when a lump needs further inspection as it could be a sign of something more serious.

Dr Naveen Puri is the medical director at Bupa Insurance and doctor with more than 20 years of experience. 

In a piece for MailOnline, he shares what lumps and bumps we should watch out for. 

Common lumps on the fingers include warty growths which might look small, grainy, with little black dots on the surface. Warts can usually be treated with over-the-counter remedies from your local pharmacist

A lump on your finger

There are a few possible causes of lumps on your finger joints.

‘Ganglion cysts are fluid-filled swellings which commonly develop near joints or tendons – particularly on wrists, hands, and fingers,’ said Dr Puri. ‘They can range from the size of a pea to the size of a golf ball.’

They’re usually harmless but if you’re feeling pain, speak to a health professional. They may be able to offer treatment, such as draining the fluid from the lump, or removing the cyst with surgery.

Dr Puri added: ‘Heberden’s nodes are small bony growths which form on the joints closest to fingertips. They’re a symptom of osteoarthritis, where cartilage in the bone joint rubs away and leads to inflammation and pain.’

Speak to your GP who can advise on possible treatment and self-help measures.

Other common lumps on the fingers include warty growths which might look small, grainy, with little black dots on the surface. Warts can usually be treated with over-the-counter remedies from your local pharmacist.

Common lumps on the fingers include warty growths which might look small, grainy, with little black dots on the surface. Warts can usually be treated with over-the-counter remedies from your local pharmacist

Common lumps on the fingers include warty growths which might look small, grainy, with little black dots on the surface. Warts can usually be treated with over-the-counter remedies from your local pharmacist

A lump in your breast

Most breast lumps aren’t caused by cancer. 

But if you do notice any lumps or changes to your breast, you should get them checked by your GP.

Dr Puri said: ‘You should regularly check your breasts for cancerous lumps.’

Keep an eye out for any texture change, thickening, or new lumps in your breast or armpit; changes in the size, shape or feel of your breasts or nipples; changes to your breast texture such as dimpling or puckering; colour changes; and/or discharge or fluid from your nipples.

A common type of lump in the breast is called a fibroadenoma, according to Dr Puri.

He said: ‘These lumps are often firm, smooth and rubbery in texture. They are not a cause for concern, but you’ll need a review from a health professional to determine this.’

Changes in hormone levels during the menstrual cycle can also lead to texture changes within the breast, such as them feeling lumpy, painful or swollen.

‘If these breast changes follow a similar pattern of appearing and disappearing during the course of your cycle then it’s likely to be normal for you, and not anything you need to worry about,’ said Dr Puri.

Checking your breasts should be part of your monthly routine so you notice any unusual changes. Simply, rub and feel from top to bottom, feel in semi-circles and in a circular motion around your breast tissue to feel for any abnormalities

Checking your breasts should be part of your monthly routine so you notice any unusual changes. Simply, rub and feel from top to bottom, feel in semi-circles and in a circular motion around your breast tissue to feel for any abnormalities

However, Dr Puri warned that any lump or texture change that persists throughout your menstrual cycle could be a cause for concern. 

Breastfeeding can also give the sensation of a lump if the milk ducts in the breast clog when breastfeeding.

Internal bruising or bleeding can also lead to lumpiness or texture change in the breast.

‘There might be a breakdown of the fat within your breast, known as fat necrosis,’ added Dr Puri. ‘This can lead to an unevenness in the feel of the affected breast, which may look like a lump.

‘However, if you have a breast lump that you’re worried about, you should always speak to a health professional as soon as possible for their advice.’

A lump on your skin

It’s best not to self-diagnose lumps on your skin.

‘Always speak to a health professional, especially if the lump has been there for two weeks,’ said Dr Puri.

Your lump may be a skin tag. These are small, usually harmless, growths on the skin.

‘Don’t try and remove these on your own,’ Dr Puri added. ‘Speak to a health professional if it becomes painful, starts bleeding, gets bigger or starts to multiply.’

If your lump is painful, it could be an abscess.

Dr Puri said that these can also be deep under the skin too, caused by an infection.

‘They’re often circular, contain pus, and may feel warm and sore,’ he said. ‘You’re more likely to get a skin abscess if you smoke, are obese, have diabetes, have a skin condition like eczema, or are aged between 15 and 40.’

Signs of skin cancer range from innocuous to obvious, but experts warn that treating cases early is key to making sure they do not spread or further develop

Signs of skin cancer range from innocuous to obvious, but experts warn that treating cases early is key to making sure they do not spread or further develop

A lump on your neck or armpit

When you have an infection or virus, Dr Puri said that swellings or lumps may develop around your neck, chin, armpits, or groin.

‘These areas are connected to your lymph nodes, which help to fight off infection,’ he added. ‘Lymph nodes will swell up and can be more easily felt if you have an infection.’

‘Rarely, swollen lymph nodes can be a sign of cancer,’ said Dr Puri.

Book an appointment with your GP if your lymph nodes are still swollen a few weeks after recovering from an infection, or if you’ve not had an infection at all.

A lump on your testicle

Dr Puri said that you should always speak to a GP if you spot any lumps or changes in your testicles.

‘They may not be caused by cancer, but it’s always best to rule it out,’ he added. 

‘Possible causes of testicular lumps include cysts or infection, as well as possible testicular cancer, which can only be ruled out with an appropriate scan once a doctor sees you.’

Testicular lumps can be caused by cysts or infection, as well as possible testicular cancer. But you should always speak to a GP if you spot any lumps or changes in your testicles

Testicular lumps can be caused by cysts or infection, as well as possible testicular cancer. But you should always speak to a GP if you spot any lumps or changes in your testicles

A lump on the inside wall of your mouth

Lumps here usually go away on their own, especially if they’re caused by infection or inflammation.

‘Rinsing with warm saltwater a few times each day can help ease pain, along with taking over-the-counter painkillers and avoiding tobacco products, if you’re a smoker,’ said Dr Puri. 

‘Eating cold foods and avoiding spice and citrus can help, too.’

However, he added that if your lump or swelling persists or gets bigger, speak to a health professional to get it checked.

Mouth ulcers that don't heal, a hoarse voice and unexplained lumps in the mouth are all warning signs of mouth cancer

Mouth ulcers that don’t heal, a hoarse voice and unexplained lumps in the mouth are all warning signs of mouth cancer

A lump inside your bottom

It’s common for lumps to form inside your bottom and if you spot a painless lump around the opening of your anus, it’s not usually a cause for concern, according to Dr Puri.

‘The most common lump in or around the bottom is a haemorrhoid, more commonly referred to as piles,’ he said. 

‘In some cases, haemorrhoids can become painful, so medical review should be sought if this is the case. Anal warts are another type of painless lump around the anus.’

Dr Puri said that if you find a hard lump around your anus opening and have pain, discharge, itching, swelling, changes to your bowel movements or bleeding, it could be a sign of anal or rectal cancer. 

He added: ‘Always speak to a GP.’

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