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"I have something growing in the palm of my left hand. It is very slow growing and was diagnosed as being benign about 8 years ago.. At what point should I see a specialist again?"
I first noticed this growth about 8 years ago. I showed the small lump in my hand to my physician, who is an internist. He sent me to a doctor specializing in hand and foot problems. This doctor said it was quite common in people with upper European ancestry (I am Polish). He also said not to worry, and that it could be removed surgically if it became "inconvenient." He described it as "just some gristle" growing in my hand. Now it is gradually advancing toward my little finger. There is no pain and it is not really inconvenient. The hand doctor I went to has retired. I would rather not have the expense of seeing another specialist if it is not necessary. I am 78 years old, female and on Medicare, but have to pay 20% of doctor bills. I am otherwise in good health.
In general, hand/foot specialists are usually orthopedic surgeons because treating conditions of the hands and feet can sometimes require surgery, as your prior specialist mentioned to you. Questions about determining whether or not a growth of any kind is benign or malignant are best answered after evaluation by a physician as it is very difficult to answer this kind of question without in-person evaluation and a detailed history. However, in general growths that develop slowly are much less concerning than those which progress rapidly. Likewise, lesions that do not cause pain and do not affect functional quality of life or movement of the hand are less worrisome than growths which hurt or affect one's ability to use the hand. There are many types of soft tissue growths that can affect the hand which are benign and are only removed if they start to bother a particular patient, and it sounds like this is very much what your prior hand surgeon thought. In order to be absolutely sure what is going on with this growth, you would have to be evaluated by another hand specialist. However, many doctor's offices will be willing to work with patients who may have financial limitations. It is always worth talking with your internist about whom he or she might recommend that you see for a second opinion. You can call that office before scheduling an appointment to find out what they charge for a consultation appointment and if they can work with you on a fee-reduction basis.
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