Distinguishing Between Lipoma And Tumour: Key Differences

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Distinguishing Between Lipoma And Tumour: Key Differences



Updated on March 23, 2024

Medically verified by Dr. Arya

Fact checked by Dr. Pournami

difference between Lipoma And Tumour


5 min read

You might have heard of lipomas and tumours which often cause discomfort. Are you confused between a lipoma or a tumour? Before undergoing any treatment, you should be well aware of its type.

Lipomas are harmless tumours formed by fat tissue. A tumour is any abnormal growth of tissue. It can be cancerous or non-cancerous.

Want to know more about lipomas and tumours? Then this is the right place for it! Mykare Health is here to explain the difference between lipoma and tumour so that you can opt for the right treatment method. Let’s dive in.

What are Lipomas and Tumour?

Lipomas are tumours formed by fat tissue. They grow slowly and are mostly non cancerous.

A tumour is any abnormal growth of tissue. They can be cancerous or non-cancerous.

Difference In Composition

Lipomas are composed of mature fat cells. They resemble normal fat tissue. Their components are mostly fat.

Tumours are composed of a variety of tissue types, depending on their origin and classification. They may consist of abnormal cells.

Know Their Growth Rate

Here’s what you should be mindful of:

  • Lipomas grow slowly over time. In a few cases, lipomas may grow more rapidly, especially if they experience trauma. Tumours can grow depending on their type, or grade.

  • Some tumours may grow rapidly, while others grow slowly.

  • Factors influencing tumour growth rate include cell proliferation rates, formation of new blood vessels, and genetic mutations.

  • Regular monitoring of the size and growth rate of a mass is important for distinguishing between a lipoma and a tumour.

  • Growth rate alone does not conclude whether the mass is cancerous or non-cancerous, additional diagnostic tests may be needed to go for any particular treatment method.


Lipomas and tumours can be distinguished on the basis of their location. Lipomas are present just under the skin whereas tumours can be present anywhere in the body.

Lipomas are usually found in areas with high concentration of fat, such as, shoulders, back abdomen, arms, and thighs. They can also develop in deeper tissues, such as the muscles, nerves, and internal organs, although it is less common.

Lipomas are often found as soft, rubbery lumps that can be moved easily under the skin.

Tumours can develop in various parts of the body. The location of a tumour depends on its type, origin, and biological behaviour. Tumours can arise in any part of the body.

Some types of tumours have characteristic locations. For example, breast cancer particularly affects the breast tissue, while lung cancer affects the lungs.

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What Are The Symptoms of Lipomas and Tumours?

  • Lipomas usually do not have any symptoms.

  • Many people are not even aware of their existence until it is discovered through physical examination.

  • Lipomas are generally present as harmless, soft, movable lump under the skin.

  • Tumours may be painful.

  • There may be change in the bowel movements, loss of appetite, or fatigue or weakness.

  • Some tumours may not cause noticeable symptoms until they reach a particular size.

Various Diagnostic Imaging Techniques for Lipomas and Tumours

Few common diagnostic methods are discussed below:

Ultrasonography is done in the initial stages to detect lipomas. It can help differentiate between different kinds of masses and find out the size, location, and type of the lipoma.Ultrasound is particularly useful for checking masses in the abdomen, breasts, and thyroid gland.
MRI is highly sensitive in distinguishing lipomas from other soft tissue masses.MRI is especially valuable for soft tissue tumours and tumours located in the brain, and spinal cord.
CT scans can be used in deeper tissues.CT scans provide detailed cross-sectional images of the body and are useful for evaluating the size, location, and extent of tumours in various organs and tissues.

What Are The Treatment Plans?

In many cases, lipomas may not require any treatment. They should be monitored for any changes in size or appearance. If a lipoma enlarges, surgical removal may be required.

  • Liposuction may be used as an alternative method for removing large lipomas.

  • Steroid injections may be needed to reduce its size.

The treatment of tumours depends on various factors, including the type, location, size, and stage. Surgical removal (resection) is usually done for localised tumours. Common methods are discussed here:

Chemotherapy is used after the surgery to reduce the size of the tumours, followed by their surgical removal.

Radiation therapy may also be used in some cases.

Targeted therapies may be used alone or in combination with other treatment methods.

Immunotherapy may be used to treat certain types of tumours, especially those that are resistant to traditional treatments.

Hormonal therapy is used to treat hormone-sensitive tumours.

Treatment plans are advised according to the patient's needs, taking into account factors such as tumour characteristics, stage, and side effects of treatment.

Know more about Lipoma treatment methods

Key Takeaways

Lipomas are formed by fat tissue while tumours are abnormal masses. Lipomas are mature fat cells while tumour growth depends on their origin and classification.

Lipomas are generally painless whereas tumours may be painful. Lipomas grow slowly while tumours may grow rapidly depending on conditions like type and grade.

Regular monitoring of the mass is important in case it is a tumour to find out whether it is cancerous or non-cancerous.

Lipomas are diagnosed by physical examination while tumours may need additional diagnostic tests.

Treatment for lipomas may involve a surgery while treatment for tumours depends on various factors.

Treatment plans are based on the patient’s medical history and stage of the tumour.

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