Soft Tissue Tumors - Benign


Tumors of soft tissue are more common than bone tumors. They can occur almost anywhere: within and between muscles, ligaments, nerves and blood vessels.

These tumors vary widely in how they look and behave. Some can be quite aggressive. The more the tumor has invaded nearby tissues, the harder it is to completely remove. This, in turn, increases the chances that the tumor will come back.


Signs of a benign soft tissue tumor vary widely. If they are close to the surface of the body, they may appear as a lump. Some cause pain; others don't. They vary widely in how they look as well. If you have pain or if the tumor grows, you should see a doctor.

Common benign soft tissue tumors include:
  • Lipomas, benign tumors composed of fatty tissue
  • Angiolipoma
  • Benign fibrous histiocytoma
  • Neurofibroma
  • Schwannomas
  • Neurolilemmona
  • Hemangiomas, noncancerous tumors that are formed by a mass of blood cells. The tumor rarely become malignant, and can be successfully excised. They often result from trauma to the affected part.
  • Giant cell tumors of tendon sheath, and
  • Myxoma

Some conditions, like nodular fasciitis and pigmented villonodular synovitis, are not tumors, but may need similar treatment.

Causes and Risk Factors

A few of these tumors may be related to a genetic condition.


It is important to accurately identify the nature of the tumor. If it is malignant, different and more aggressive treatment may be needed.

Imaging techniques such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRIs) can be used to see soft tissue tumors. MRIs will be done to help pinpoint the location of a tumor if a biopsy is to be done.

A biopsy is a procedure in which a sample of tissue is taken to be examined under a microscope. This examination helps determine whether the tumor is benign or malignant.


Most soft tissue tumors, fortunately, are made of fat (lipomas). They often occur just beneath the skin as a soft, painless mass, which grows slowly over months or years.

These tumors aren't dangerous to the patient. Often they don't need more than watching. If necessary, they can be removed with surgery.

Depending on the type of tumor you have, your doctor may or may not recommend surgery. Tumors are removed surgically with the goal of minimizing risk to surrounding normal blood vessels, nerves, muscle or bone.

© 2000-2022 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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