Common benign skin tumors.


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Abstract

Benign skin tumors are commonly seen by family physicians. The ability to properly diagnose and treat common benign tumors and to distinguish them from malignant lesions is a vital skill for all family physicians. Any lesions for which the diagnosis is uncertain, based on the history and gross examination, should be biopsied for histopathologic examination to rule out malignancy. Lipomas are technically subcutaneous soft tissue tumors, not skin tumors, and controversy exists about whether keratoacanthomas have malignant potential; however, both are discussed in this article because they are common tumors evaluated by family physicians. Diagnosis usually is based on the appearance of the lesion and the patient's clinical history, although biopsy is sometimes required. Treatment includes excision, cryotherapy, curettage with or without electrodesiccation, and pharmacotherapy, and is based on the type of tumor and its location. Generally, excision is the treatment of choice for lipomas, dermatofibromas, keratoacanthomas, pyogenic granulomas, and epidermoid cysts. Cherry angiomas and sebaceous hyperplasia are often treated with laser therapy and electrodesiccation. Common treatments for acrochordons and seborrheic keratoses are cryotherapy and shave excision. Referral is indicated if the family physician is not confident with the diagnostic evaluation or treatment of a lesion, or if a biopsy reveals melanoma.

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