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Feature Article

Benign skin tumours: a guide to assessment and treatment

Christopher J Quirk

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Abstract

This article is a guide to the commonly seen benign skin lesions whose differential diagnosis includes malignancy. These lesions can cause significant anxiety to both patients and clinicians.

Key Points

  • Benign skin lesions mimicking malignant tumours can cause significant anxiety to both patients and clinicians.
  • Many benign skin tumours do not need to be biopsied or treated.
  • Major predictive factors for melanoma include lesion asymmetry and colour variation within a lesion. The finding of a ‘blue-grey veil’ under examination with a dermoscope or episcope is strongly suggestive of melanoma.
  • The recommended standard of care for a suspicious pigmented lesion is an excisional biopsy; partial biopsy samples are often unrepresentative of the lesion as a whole.
  • Superficial benign lesions can be treated with superficially destructive treatments; deeper lesions need surgical excision.

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