For palpable non-osseous (non-bony) surface masses with an intact skin coverage, I usually get the following data or characteristics to be used in my evaluation for a clinical diagnosis:
- Discreteness (discrete or non-discrete : obvious or non-obvious)
- Size (estimate in cm, in its largest diameter)
- Nature (solid or cystic or complex)
- Consistency (hard or non-hard – soft or firm)
- Border (well-defined or ill-defined)
- Mobility (very movable, movable, fixed)
- Tenderness (tender or non-tender)
- Redness (presence or not)
General cues that I use:
- Presence of redness is a reliable cue for an inflammatory mass.
- Cystic nature of the mass carries a high probability that the mass is non-malignant or non-cancerous.
- Well defined border and very movable mass carry a high probability that the mass is non-malignant or non-cancerous.
- Solid mass with ill-defined border carry a suspicion of a malignant mass.
Algorithm that I usually use:
- Look for signs of inflammation – if positive, inflammatory mass. If negative, left with malignant or non-malignant mass.
- Look for signs of malignancy – if positive, malignant mass. If negative, left with non-malignant mass.