Symptoms A-Z

Painless Chest Wall Lump Symptoms, Causes & Common Questions

A painless lump on the chest can most commonly be caused by a skin condition like an abscess, wart, or cysts. Rare causes for a painless chest wall lump include non cancerous cell growth known as lipoma, dermatofibroma, or breast cancer. Read below for more information on causes and treatment options.

An image depicting a person suffering from painless chest wall lump symptoms

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Contents

  1. Symptoms
  2. Causes
  3. 5 Possible Painless Chest Wall Lump Conditions
  4. Treatments and Relief
  5. FAQs
  6. Questions Your Doctor May Ask
  7. Statistics
  8. References

Painless Chest Wall Lump Symptoms

A painless chest wall lump can be a concerning symptom. In the absence of pain, it may be harder to determine changes to the lump over time. However, a lump can signify a serious underlying condition, so it is important to try to keep in mind the following characteristics and consult a medical provider in a timely manner.

For most, a chest wall lump may elicit fears of a cancerous process, especially if they are associated with symptoms such as:

The lump may also be hard, feel rigid or stuck in place, and grow in size over time. If you experience such symptoms in addition to your chest wall lump, make an appointment with your physician promptly.

Less-concerning symptoms

Despite the seriousness of such a finding on your body, there are some signs and symptoms that can be reassuring. For example, chest wall lumps are less concerning if they have the following characteristics:

  • Soft
  • Easily mobile
  • Get smaller in size with rest

Regardless of the specific symptoms you experience, it is always imperative to see a healthcare professional to further investigate your chest wall lump.

Painless Chest Wall Lump Causes

The chest wall is a cavity of bone (including the spine, sternum, and ribs) and muscle that forms a cage around the lungs, heart, and other vital organs. There is also fat and various tissues and vessels that run throughout this area. Conditions that affect these structures can result in chest wall lumps of various etiologies that can be grouped into the following categories:

Cancerous

In general, any growth is the result of cells dividing and growing uncontrollably. Sometimes there is a genetic mutation in DNA or a specific protein or failure in an important checkpoint that results in this unchecked growth. These abnormal cells accumulate to form a noticeable lump, also called a tumor. Tumors can be divided into the following groups [1,2].

  • Benign: A tumor that originates in the bone or muscle of the chest wall that does NOT invade nearby tissues or spread throughout the body is considered benign (harmless). Tumors such as lipomas (tumors of fatty tissues) are often benign.
  • Malignant: A malignant tumor iinvades not only its surrounding tissues but also has the capacity to spread to other parts of the body. Malignant tumors can also be categorized as primary or secondary. Sarcomas (tumors that arise in cartilage, soft tissues or bones) are often malignant. Primary tumors originate in the bone or muscle of the chest wall.Secondary tumorsoriginate elsewhere in the body and metastasize (spread) to the chest wall.

Other

There are many other conditions that can appear as lumps in the chest wall.

  • Dermatologic: Many dermatologic conditions can result in lumps and bumps on the skin throughout the body. For example, cysts are growths that can be filled with fluid, pus, blood or other material. They often feel like small peas under the skin that are painless or smooth to the touch.
  • Infectious: Some bacterial and viral skin infections can result in sequelae that look like growths. For example, some strains of human papillomavirus (HPV) can result in warts or wart-like growths on the skin.

  • Lymphatic: The lymphatic system is an import network of organs, vessels, and glands throughout the body important for immune function. The glands of the system, also called lymph nodes, function to filter and trap viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens before they can spread and infect other parts of the body. There are lymph nodes in the chest wall that can swell in the setting of inflammatory conditions, including infections, that may appear as chest wall lumps.

5 Possible Painless Chest Wall Lump Conditions

The list below shows results from the use of our quiz by Buoy users who experienced painless chest wall lump. This list does not constitute medical advice and may not accurately represent what you have.

Lipoma

Lipoma is a word that translates as "fatty tumor," but a lipoma is not cancer. It is simply a growth of fat between the muscle layer and the skin above it.

The exact cause is not known. The condition does run in families and is associated with other unusual syndromes such as adiposis dolorosa, which is similar. Lipomas most often appear after age 40.

Symptoms include a soft, easily moveable lump beneath the skin, about two inches across. A lipoma is painless unless its growth is irritating the nerves around it. They are most often found on the back, neck, and abdomen, and sometimes the arms and upper legs.

It is a good idea to have any new or unusual growth checked by a medical provider, just to make certain it is benign.

Diagnosis is made through physical examination, biopsy, and imaging such as ultrasound or CT scan.

Most of the time, treatment is not necessary unless the lipoma is unsightly or is interfering with other structures. It can be removed through surgery or liposuction.

Rarity: Uncommon

Top Symptoms: skin-colored groin bump, marble sized groin lump, small groin lump

Symptoms that always occur with lipoma: skin-colored groin bump

Urgency: Wait and watch

Dermatofibroma

A dermatofibroma is a common skin growth that usually appears on the lower legs, but may appear anywhere on the body. These growths are benign (noncancerous). Dermatofibromas are most common in adults and are rarely found in children.

Symptoms include a hard, raised growth that is red, pink, ...

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Painless Chest Wall Lump Symptom Checker

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Male breast cancer

Male breast cancer is rare and accounts for less than one percent of all cancers in the worldwide. The overwhelming majority of male breast cancers are a ductal carcinoma.

Breast cancer is often noticed by healthcare professionals or individuals when a painless breast mass appears,...

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Skin cyst

A cyst is a small sac or lump, filled with fluid, air, fat, or other material, that begins to grow somewhere in the body for no apparent reason. A skin cyst is one that forms just beneath the skin.

It's believed that skin cysts form around trapped keratin cells – the cells that form the relatively tough outer layer of the skin.

These cysts are not contagious.

Anyone can get a skin cyst, but they are most common in those who are over age 18, have acne, or have injured the skin.

Symptoms include the appearance of a small, rounded lump under the skin. Cysts are normally painless unless infected, when they will be reddened and sore and contain pus.

Diagnosis is made through physical examination. A small cyst can be left alone, though if it is unsightly or large enough to interfere with movement it can be removed in a simple procedure done in a doctor's office. An infected cyst must be treated so that the infection does not spread.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: skin-colored armpit bump, marble sized armpit lump, small armpit lump

Symptoms that always occur with skin cyst: skin-colored armpit bump

Urgency: Wait and watch

Wart

Warts, also called common warts or verrucae, are small, rough, rounded growths on the top layer of the skin. They may appear alone or in clusters. Common warts are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV) and are contagious through direct contact. They may spread from one place on the body to another simply through touch.

...

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Painless Chest Wall Lump Treatments and Relief

Since the causes of painless chest wall lumps are varied, it is important to make an appointment with your physician in order to get the proper diagnosis and treatment. Depending on the cause of your symptoms, your physician may suggest the following [4].

  • Cancer treatment: If your painless chest wall lump and associated symptoms are due to malignant cancer, your physician will discuss treatment options including surgery, radiation or chemotherapy [3].
  • Surgery: Surgery is often an option for benign chest wall growths but also can be considered in removing conditions such as warts or other dermatologic skin problems.
  • Supportive care: For most other causes of chest wall lumps, watching and waiting for the lump to resolve is often a first-line treatment option. Many conditions such as warts and cysts often resolve on their own.

FAQs About Painless Chest Wall Lump

Here are some frequently asked questions about painless chest wall lump.

Will the lump in my chest wall go away on its own?

Depending on the cause, there is a possibility that the lump will go away on its own. If the chest wall lump is a cyst or caused by lymphatic swelling from a transient infection, the likelihood that it will go away on its own is high. However, if the chest wall lump is a benign or malignant tumor, it will not resolve on its own and will require follow-up.

Will the lump become painful?

The chest wall lump may or may not become painful depending on the cause. Some tumors may become painful over time; and although warts and dermatologic conditions such as cysts are usually painless, there is a possibility that they may become painful over time as well.

Is the chest wall lump chronic or temporary?

A chest wall lump may be temporary or chronic depending on the cause. A chronic chest wall lump is more associated with benign or malignant growths whereas temporary lumps are more associated with other causes such as dermatologic skin conditions.

How will the lump affect my daily activities?

A chest wall lump may affect activities such as inhaling and exhaling deeply because a growth within the muscles of the chest wall can impede movement of the chest wall. If your symptoms are due to a malignant process, you may also feel extremely fatigued and unable to carry out normal daily activities.

What can I do to prevent the development of chest wall lumps?

It is very difficult to prevent the development of chest wall lumps. Some chest wall cancers are genetic or hereditary in nature (meaning that they are passed down from family to family). Other causes such as lymph node swelling or dermatologic skin conditions may be prevented with techniques such as proper hand washing and hygiene practices.

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Painless Chest Wall Lump

To diagnose this condition, your doctor would likely ask the following questions:

  • What color is the bump?
  • Is the lump on your chest on the surface of the skin or below the skin?
  • What is your body mass?
  • Have you been experiencing a deep, aching bone pain that started for no apparent reason?

The above questions are also covered by our A.I. Health Assistant.

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions

Take a quiz to find out what might be causing your painless chest wall lump

Painless Chest Wall Lump Symptom Checker Statistics

People who have experienced painless chest wall lump have also experienced:

  • 7% Rib Pain
  • 6% Tight, Heavy, Squeezing Chest Pain
  • 5% Unintentional Weight Loss

People who have experienced painless chest wall lump were most often matched with:

  • 100% Male Breast Cancer

People who have experienced painless chest wall lump had symptoms persist for:

  • 42% Over a month
  • 24% Less than a week
  • 12% Less than a day

Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from visits to the Buoy AI health assistant (check it out by clicking on “Take Quiz”).

Painless Chest Wall Lump Symptom Checker

Take a quiz to find out what might be causing your painless chest wall lump

References

  1. When to Worry About Your Body's Lumps and Bumps. UPMC Hillman Cancer Center. Published November 11, 2016. UPMC Link
  2. Chest Wall Tumors. University of Rochester Medical Center. URMC Link
  3. Chest Wall Tumors and Sarcomas. Mount Sinai. Mount Sinai Link
  4. Cakmak M. Analysis of Chest Wall Masses: A Clinical Study. Biomedical Research. 2017;28(5). Allied Academies Link
  5. Chest Wall Tumor. Boston Medical Center. BMC Link
  6. Chatha DS, Rybak LD, Wittig JC, Desai P. Chest Wall Mass in a 50-Year-Old Woman. Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research. 2010;468(5):1462-1466. NCBI Link

Disclaimer: The article does not replace an evaluation by a physician. Information on this page is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes.