Doctor, I found a lump!

Dear Doctor,
About 3 months ago I noticed a lump on the back of my neck. I went to my medical doctor and he told me that it was a fatty tumor and that there is no concern about it. What exactly is a fatty tumor? How does one get it, and can I do anything to get rid of it? Ben

A “fatty tumor” or Lipoma is a growth of fat cells in a thin, fibrous capsule usually found just below the skin. Lipomas are found most often on the torso, neck, upper thighs, upper arms, and armpits, but can occur almost anywhere in the body. One or more lipomas may be present at the same time. Lipomas occur in all age groups but most often appear in middle age. Lipomas need to be differentiated from swollen lymph nodes or glands such when a person has an infection or cold.

Single lipomas occur with equal frequency in men and women. Multiple lipomas occur more frequently in men. Lipomas are the most common noncancerous soft tissue growth. The cause of lipomas are not completely understood, but the tendency to develop them is inherited. A minor injury may trigger the growth. Being overweight does not cause lipomas. Lipomas usually do not produce any symptoms. They are movable and have a soft, rubbery consistency. They usually remain the same size over years or grow very slowly. Lipomas do not generally require treatment. Since lipomas are not cancerous growths and cannot become cancerous, they do not need to be removed. There is some research showing that DMSO may reduce lipomas, however there is little data on the effectiveness of this. There is no known treatment to prevent lipomas or affect their growth. A lipoma may be surgically removed if symptoms develop, such as becomes painful or tender, inflamed, drain, interfere with movement or increase in size.

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