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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A syringoma is a type of benign skin tumor which originates in the sweat glands.

The term “syringoma,” derived from a Latin root meaning “tube,” is a reference to the tube-like structure of the sweat gland where the tumor starts to grow. These benign neoplasms are most commonly treated when they become an aesthetic problem, or when a doctor wants to confirm that the growth actually is benign, removing it for biopsy on the grounds that it is better to be safe than sorry when it comes to abnormal skin growth.

Syringomas are most commonly seen around the eyelids and upper cheeks, although they can occur in other regions of the body as well. They look like small lumps inserted under the skin, and sometimes appear in eruptive form, in which several syringomas emerge at once, scattered across the skin. These growths are sometimes confused with xanthomas, collections of cholesterol under the skin which also have a characteristic lumpy appearance.

A doctor can often diagnose a syringoma with a physical examination and interview of the patient to learn more about when the growth first appeared and whether or not it is painful. However, some doctors may ask if they can take a sample to biopsy, so that a pathologist can examine some cells from the growth to see if they have any characteristics which might lead a doctor to conclude that the growth is something other than a syringoma. In this case, the biopsy can be done quickly in the doctor's office.

These growths are usually not painful. Some patients may pick at them, creating a scabbed area which can be itchy or painful, and sometimes syringomas make it difficult to apply makeup. They can also attract unwanted attention, especially in the case of eruptive growths, which are harder to miss than a single small syringoma which may not be visible until someone is very close to the patient and can clearly see the patient's skin.

There are treatment options available to remove syringomas, for patients who would like the growths removed. These options include lasering or cutting to remove the growth. However, patients should be aware that these methods can leave scarring, and that the growth can sometimes recur.

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