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Benign Skin Findings that Mimic Skin Cancer


  As we age, our skin undergoes many changes. Many different types of skin growths can begin to appear. The vast majority are benign, and pose no danger to our health. For educational purposes, include pictures of many of the most common skin findings that patients may find concerning. If you have a new lesion or one that is evolving, you should seek the opinion of your dermatologist or primary care physician.




The angiofibroma is commonly found on the nose, where they are referred to a fibrous papule of the nose. They also occur on the midface around the nose. They are small, firm dome-shaped bumps that can be flesh-colored, or brown or pink. Often, they slowly enlarge with no symptoms and may resemble a basal cell carcinoma. A skin biopsy can reveal the diagnosis. Treatment is unnecessary, but a dermatologist can shave an angiofibroma down to remove it. Numerous facial lesions may respond well to laser treatment. 


Also known as a cherry angioma, this is a small grouping of blood vessels in the skin that is benign. Angiomas are common, and occur in the middle-aged and older. They first appear as a small flat spot and then enlarge to form a dome-shaped lesion that is only a few millimeters in size. They range in color from bright red to dark purple. Treatment is not necessary, but removal can be with cryosurgery (freezing), electrosurgery, or a special laser. 




Acrochordon (Skin Tag)
Acrochordons are fleshy polyps or tags of skin that occur most often in areas of friction, such as the neck around the collar, armpits, and between the thighs, although they can occur anywhere. The skin tag can appear as a single lesion or up to hundreds. They are entirely benign and harmless, but are annoying and may become irritated and inflamed.



Benign Lichenoid Keratosis
The benign lichenoid keratosis is a commonly encountered lesion of sun-damaged skin of fair-skinned Caucasian patients. It is rarely observed in other races. It occurs in females more often than males. The lesions appear most often on the chest and arms, but can occur anywhere. They are thin, pink, scaly patches that can mimic superficial basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma in situ.  Diagnosis is made by skin biopsy. As the condition is benign, and treatment is usually not necessary and the biopsy can remove them entirely.


Dermatofibromas are common benign growths that usually appear as a small pink, red or brown bump.  Firm to the touch, they are most commonly found on the lower legs, arms or upper back. 




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