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Fibroadnexal Hamartoma

July 12, 2010
lab mix chillin


Okay, okay. Sometimes doctors get carried away. But, if you saw this lump, you’d be speechless, too.

Ready for it?

fibroadnexal hamartoma

fibroadnexal hamartoma

This brown, squishy multi-lobulated lump grew out of a beagle mix’s side for a year! It never bothered her and it didn’t seem to get in the way.

Surgery to remove the lump was successful. The specialty pathology report stated this was a fibroadnexal hamartoma. A what? Okay, first, it’s benign. This means it’s a cancer, but it doesn’t spread around the body. That’s good.

Benign means a “good” cancer. One that does not metastasize, or spread around the body to distant areas.

Fibro means related to connective tissue. Most of the skin has connective tissue. Ligaments, joint capsules, the underlayment of the skin: these are all connective tissues.

Adnexal relates to the adnexa. Okay, I know, that doesn’t help. Adnexa are the structures of the skin surrounding a hair follicle. It’s just what they’re called. Because doctors need fancy words for things to make money – I mean, to be specific when they talk about things. (Did I say that out loud?) I think of “nexa” as “next to.”

Hamartoma. Hmmm. -Oma, by itself, absolutely not “sarcoma*,” means benign cancer. Hamar. No idea!! Ha, so there. It sounds cool and weird though, doesn’t it?

lump pathology report

I'm not making this up!

Moral of the story: sometimes you pay a lot for a diagnosis that no one really understands. Except the peace of mind that it won’t kill or harm your dog (at least not any more than the veterinarian did with the scalpel.) Plus, the thing just looked nasty sticking out of the poor dog’s side. Sometimes we just should make things look less nasty.

*-oma is a suffix applied to a benign tumor. -sarcoma is a suffix indicating a metastatic tumor and a poorer over-all prognosis.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. November 14, 2014 1:31 pm

    Sorry Doc, I appreciate your attempt to make this diagnosis more understandable to normal humans that do not have 10 years of medical education, but I am a veterinary pathologist and your breakdown of this diagnosis is more confusing than the original diagnosis. First Cancer and neoplasia are not synonyms. Cancer is synonymous with “malignant neoplasm”. You have also wrongly defined sarcoma. Sarcoma is a malignant tumor not a metastatic tumor. Metastatic implies that is has already spread to a different location, whereas malignantly implies that it has the ability to spread locally or metastasize.
    In English here is a description of a fibroadnexal hamartoma: A mass (oma) composed of an overproduction of normal structures (hamart) with a combination of collagen (fibro) and hair follicle structures (adnexal). These masses can occur secondary to trauma or they can be congenital and often take many years to become large enough to need to be excised. Fortunately in this case the mass was benign, but with large cutaneous masses they are more often malignant than benign. The standard for removal should not be “it never bothered her”, it should be it grew very slowly and was less that 1cm across. As veterinarians we should advise that all masses greater than 1 cm be excised because other than lipomas, cutaneous masses greater than 1cm have high rate of malignant behavior.

    • November 15, 2014 7:33 pm

      Awesome! Thank you very much for that precise breakdown of the definitions. I admit being tempted to completely remove this story from the internet because I found it difficult to write clearly. Now I’m glad I left it, because your addition to the discussion will undoubtedly help lots of people.

      Thank you,
      Doc Truli

  2. April 2, 2011 3:04 pm

    Hi there,

    I just stumbled across your blogpost after searching images for hamartoma and now I’m curious about a couple of your quotes:

    “Okay, first, it’s benign. This means it’s a cancer”

    “Benign means a “good” cancer. One that does not metastasize, or spread around the body
    to distant areas.”

    Can you please tell me where you read that “benign” means cancer? I’d be most grateful.

    • April 7, 2011 5:26 pm

      Good question, Della.

      The word “benign” is not a synonym for “cancer.” Perhaps my informal writing style made it appear so. In the context of a mass or lump on the skin, however, then benign automatically means “as opposed to malignant,” and the category is a neoplasm, or cancer. If I were writing a work of literature, instead of a medical story, then perhaps, we could say that a lump had a benign disposition, like we say a person has a “sunny” or “benign” disposition.

      In the context of a lump or growth on the body or in the body, it can be a “benign neoplasm” or a “metastatic neoplasm.” Neoplasm is a direct synonym for cancer.

      In medicine, I’ve always understood that “benign” is an adjective to describe cancer. Either the cancer is “benign” or it is “metastatic.” For example, from “Manual of Small Animal Internal Medicine” by Nelson & Couto, Mosby Publishers, 1999, p. 682:
      “Masses are abnormal and should always be evaluated; most masses, except inflammatory lesions, do not regress spontaneously. The first step is to perform a fine-needle aspirate (FNA) for cytologic evaluation; this allows a presumptive or definitive diagnosis in most patients. Once the origin of the mass has been established (benign neoplastic, malignant neoplastic, inflammatory, or hyperplastic), additonal evaluation can be recommended.”

      Perhaps I could have improved my writing by saying “…it’s benign. In medicine, this means it’s cancer.” Since VirtuaVet is all inspirational medical stories, we’re already there. But I can see how the sentence could be confusing the way I wrote it. Does that help?

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