Bump and Lump On Leg: Cancerous Or Not?

Some lumps on the legs are caused by infections, injuries, or an underlying condition. Lumps that form specifically on the knees may be caused by the different forms of arthritis or from various joint injuries.

Leg in pain

A lump is defined as a tumor, nodule, or bump in an area that is localized and can present itself with swelling. It can happen on any part of the body, including the leg. These leg lumps can be the result of several factors that include trauma, tumors, inflammation, and infections. Leg lumps can be painless or painful, firm or soft, and multiple or single depending on the causal factors. These leg lumps may stay as they are in terms of size while some may start growing quickly. 

Some lumps on the legs that are caused by infections may show up as a swollen area caused by abscesses and boils. On the other hand, lumps that are caused by trauma such as severe injuries or bug bites may result in the collection of body tissues of blood (also known as a hematoma). Conditions that can lead to inflamed parts of the body such as joint inflammation as a result of chronic autoimmune disease (e.g. rheumatoid arthritis) may also be linked to the development of leg lumps particularly around the joints of the knee. Lumps that form specifically on the knees may be caused by the different forms of arthritis or from various joint injuries. 

Tumors are parts of the soft tissues and the skin which may be malignant or benign can sometimes feel like lumps in the leg although these can be considered as rare conditions. For such instances, surgical removal or a biopsy of the lump can help diagnose if the tumor is benign or if it can lead to cancer.

When to Call a Doctor for the Lump on the Leg?

There are also cases where the lump may present itself with other symptoms which may be an indication that the tumor is life-threatening or much more serious which should be evaluated and addressed immediately. In this case, it may be best to call 911 or to seek immediate medical assistance if any of the following symptoms are observed:

  1. Uncontrollable pain
  2. High fever
  3. Heavy and uncontrolled bleeding
  4. Pulses in the feet that are absent
  5. Loss of body sensation
  6. The inability to move a part of the body or paralysis.

If the lump on the leg of the patient is a cause for concern for the individual, then prompt medical care should be sought.

Symptoms That May Occur Along with Lump on the leg

A lump on the leg may be accompanied by other symptoms which can be different depending on the underlying condition causing the said symptoms. Conditions that can lead to the development of a lump on the leg may also have other systems of the body involved. Some localized symptoms that can accompany a lump on the leg include tenderness, warmth and redness, discharge or pus, swelling, leg pain, and bruising or bleeding. Other possible symptoms include weight loss, joint pain and swelling, weakness of the muscles, lumps all over the body, and fever. 

These leg lumps may also be accompanied by symptoms that may indicate a more serious condition or illness or it could be a symptom that is linked to an injury. It is recommended that the patient call emergency service or 911 if the symptoms indicated in the next sentence are observed. These are hemorrhage or uncontrolled bleeding that is heavy, pain that is uncontrollable inability to move a part of the body or paralysis, bone deformity or bone breakage that is obvious, lower leg with reduced sensation, high-grade fever, and pulse that is absent and feet that is cold and weak. 

What Are the possible causes of a lump in the leg?

There are several different possible causes in the development of leg lumps and these can include certain cancers, benign tumors, diseases inflammatory, infections, and trauma. Some of the causes of leg lump resulting from trauma include bite or sting injuries, injuries to the knees, hematoma, and bones that are broken. Leg lump causes as a result of infections include warts caused by papillomavirus, bone infection or osteomyelitis, cellulitis, boils, and abscesses.

Leg lump may also be the result of inflammatory conditions, especially around the joints of the knees. Some of these inflammatory causes are:

  • Systemic lupus erythematosus
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Psoriatic arthritis
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Gout
  • Erythema nodosum

Certain tumors can also lead to lumps on the leg and these include:

  • Sarcoma
  • Osteosarcoma
  • Nonmelanoma skin cancers
  • Nevi or skin moles
  • Melanoma
  • Lymphoma

Some serious or major health conditions that may cause leg lump include septic arthritis, osteomyelitis, and cancers of the soft tissues or bones. 

Diagnosing Leg Lumps Caused by Serious Health Conditions

To enable healthcare professionals to diagnose underlying conditions resulting in leg lumps, the doctor will conduct a physical exam and ask several questions such as symptoms, possible injuries, pain in the lump on the leg, size of the lump, and how long the lump has been on the leg. 

Leg Lumps: Possible Complications of this Condition

Cancers that are the cause of leg lumps can have consequences that are life-threatening and can depend on the extent (stage) and type of cancer. On the other hand, conditions that are the result of infections that are serious and abscesses can lead to a widespread infection. Leg lumps and other symptoms associated with it are rarely due to diseases that serious or life-threatening so if patients fail to avail of the appropriate treatment may lead to permanent damage and other serious complications. 

Once the underlying cause of the leg lump is diagnosed, a treatment plan will follow to avoid possible complications. These include the spread of infection, the spread of cancer (and eventually death), pain that is chronic or permanent, problems with the nerve that can lead to tingling, numbness, or pain, destruction and deformation of the joints, disability, and athletic performance that is reduced.

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