Learning About Benign Soft Tissue Tumors in Children

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Types of soft tissue, including nerves, muscle and connective tissue, lymph vessels, blood vessels, and fat

What is a benign soft tissue tumor?

A soft tissue tumor is a growth of abnormal cells in the body's soft tissues. These tissues include the muscles, lymph and blood vessels, nerves, and fat. They can also include cartilage and other connective tissues. When a tumor is benign (say "bih-NYN"), that means it's not cancer. Most soft tissue tumors are benign.

Benign tumors don't spread to other tissues and organs. They usually aren't life-threatening. But they can cause problems if they grow too much, press on nerves, or cause pain.

What are some common types of these tumors?

Some common types of benign soft tissue tumors in children include:

Vascular lesions.

These are common in blood vessels and in the skin.

Fibromatoses.

These are skin or soft tissue tumors.

Neurogenic tumors.

These are tumors of the nerves. They can be painful.

Benign synovial tumors.

These may be found in the soft tissues of the hands and feet, and sometimes in the knee joint.

Other types of tumors may appear on the skin, belly, limbs, organs, and nerves. Examples include fibromas, lipomas, soft tissue cysts, and neurofibromas.

What are the symptoms?

Sometimes a tumor can be felt as a bump under the skin. Or if the tumor is deep enough below the skin, you may not be able to feel it on your child. Your child may also feel pain near the tumor if it's large or pressing on something.

How are these tumors diagnosed?

The doctor will ask about your child's symptoms and past health and will do an exam. A physical exam can help your doctor diagnose some soft tissue tumors.

The doctor may find a tumor when taking X-rays or other imaging tests for another problem.

If the doctor isn't sure what the growth is, and if your child's symptoms could be signs of a tumor, your child will get some tests. The tests can help make sure it's not cancer. They can also help the doctor figure out the best treatment for the tumor.

  • Your child may have one or more imaging tests to get a better look at the tumor. These may include:
    • X-rays.
    • Ultrasound tests.
    • CT scan.
    • MRI scan.
  • Your child may need blood tests and lab work.
  • Your child may need a biopsy so a sample of the tumor can be looked at under a microscope. This sample may also be used to test for biomarkers. They will help with planning treatment.

Doctors may also look at other parts of your child's body for other tumors.

How are they treated?

Some benign soft tissue tumors that aren't causing problems can be watched over time. Some may remain stable or go away on their own. But if the tumor causes pain, is growing larger, or affects your child's movement, it may need to be removed.

You may also choose to have these tumors removed if they bother your child or if you and your child don't like how they look.

Doctors may remove some tumors with surgery. In some cases, other treatments, including medicines, may be used.

Talk with the doctor or specialist about other types of treatments for your child's tumor. After treatment, the doctor may want to check the area again to make sure that the growth doesn't come back.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.




The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.