Hemangiomas are benign (aka harmless) tumors that form out of blood vessels. And while the majority of hemangiomas manifest on the skin’s surface or just below it–often on the face and neck–they can also occur in other tissues, such as bone and muscle. And hemangiomas can come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. They are directly caused by tiny blood vessels that multiply at an abnormal rate, leading to the formation of a lump or mass.
Most hemangiomas do not necessitate medical intervention because they almost never become cancerous. However, some individuals with them choose to contact a physician regarding theirs because they are sometimes disfiguring. Cosmetic procedures are available for cases like this. And surgery could be needed for tumors that are nestled deep within your bone or muscle, or tumors on your skin that lead to issues with your eating, breathing, or even vision.
Though doctors can typically diagnose hemangiomas based on a physical exam and your medical history, performing imaging tests can prove to be useful. Imaging tests your doctor may perform include: CT scans, X-rays, MRIs, and angiograms. Furthermore, it can be difficult to tell the difference between a hemangioma and another type of tumor, so your doctor may perform a biopsy to confirm whether or not you have a hemangioma.
The underlying cause of a given hemangioma depends on its type, though precisely why they develop is not well known. For example, some hemangiomas pop up after an injury, but it hasn’t yet been proven whether or not an injury can truly cause the formation of a hemangioma. Additionally, we know that infantile hemangiomas come from errors in the vascular system’s development when infants were still in the womb, though often times we can’t figure out what the exact error was. Other hemangiomas, still, are known to originate from certain genetic abnormalities.
Ezra scans may pick up hemangiomas; you can learn more about our screening options here.