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Definition of Lymphangioma
A noncancerous lesion made up of lymph vessels. Pathologically, doctors classify a lymphangioma as hamartomatous, (harmartomas are benign tumors) which refers to the lesion’s pattern of self-limiting growth.
Lymphangiomas are congenital or arise soon after birth, most commonly manifesting as skin lesions on the head, back, arms, and legs, though the lesions may involve any external or internal epithelial tissue (skin and mucous membranes).
Lymphangiomas grow slowly, then stop growing and remain the same size.
Though not cancerous, a lymphangioma may cause problems or symptoms because of its location and size – in the small intestine, for example, may interfere with the absorption of nutrients or create an ileus (obstruction).
Lymphangiomas that do not cause symptoms do not require treatment as they are self-limiting. A surgeon can operate to remove a lymphangioma that causes symptoms or is cosmetically unsatisfactory. However, the structure has no capsule and tends to diffusely infiltrate tissue, making it difficult for the surgeon to remove it completely.
If the lymphangioma has not finished growing, it will recur. Most lymphangiomas are benign in that they do not cause symptoms or health problems.
See also BIRTHMARK; HEMANGIOMA.