A finger tumor is a mass or lump that forms on a finger. Doctors may also describe these growths as nodules or cysts. Possible causes include ganglion cysts, warts, skin cancer, and more.

Although most finger tumors are benign (noncancerous), they can be uncomfortable and unsightly, which may make someone feel self-conscious. Sometimes, finger tumors may be malignant (cancerous). More severe instances may affect a person’s ability to move their hand.

Finger tumors can lead to other nonspecific symptoms — such as tenderness or pain — which can prolong a diagnosis.

Treatment options can range from topicals to more invasive techniques. However, the type and severity of the condition will influence whether treatment is necessary.

This article examines different types of finger tumors, their symptoms, causes, and treatment options.

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Some types of finger tumors include:

Ganglion cyst

This is a common tumor type that affects the hand. They can form on the joint capsule or nearby tissues and can vary in size and appearance.

The cyst may be soft for some, while others find it firm. A person may find a clear, gel-like fluid within the cyst.

They are noncancerous and unlikely to spread to other areas. However, they cause problems for some people, in which case, a doctor may recommend aspiration, puncturing the cyst with a needle, or surgical removal.


Human papillomavirus (HPV) can cause warts. Warts spread easily from person to person or other areas of the body. They tend to have a rough, bumpy texture and may look like a small cauliflower or mushroom.

Warts are typically noncancerous but can cause a person discomfort.

Giant cell tumor of the tendon sheath

This tumor type typically grows slowly and can develop over a few months to years. Giant cell tumors of the tendon sheath are the second most common type of tumor that can affect the hands.

This type of tumor has a high recurrence rate.

They are usually solid and not filled with liquid.

Epidermal inclusion cyst

This tumor type is generally quite common and unlikely to be cancerous. They may appear at the site of a previous injury.

Epidermal inclusion cysts usually contain keratin at their center. Keratin is a waxy protein found in the skin, hair, and nails.

Acral lentiginous melanoma

This type of skin cancer forms on the palms or soles. While it is less common on the hands, people sometimes find them under their fingernails. Symptoms include a black or brown lesion on the skin that may be flat or raised.

When doctors diagnose it early, acral melanoma is highly treatable.

Glomus tumor

This rare type of tumor forms in the small clusters of cells known as glomus bodies.

These tumors are usually benign, but they can be cancerous. While 75% of people with these tumors find them in their hands, around 65% of them are in their fingertips.

Glomus tumors can be extremely painful.


This growth occurs in the cartilage of bones in the hands. Most times, they do not cause symptoms.

Single enchondromas rarely become cancerous.

A nail tumor is a lesion found under the nail plate. The tumor attaches to the nail bed or matrix, the area at the base of the finger where the nail forms. Nail tumors are usually noncancerous, but it is important to have them evaluated by a doctor to rule out any serious conditions.

If malignant, they require surgical removal.

Some tumors affecting the fingernail include:

The most typical symptom is lumps or bumps somewhere on the finger.

Depending on the type and severity, a person also may experience the following:

  • pain
  • swelling
  • stiffness
  • hypersensitivity to cold, especially with glomus tumors
  • or a change in skin color

If significant, a finger tumor may affect the movement of the finger or hand.

In many instances, infection or injury can cause finger tumors. For example, HPV can cause warts.

Other causes of finger tumors may include:

  • inflammation or irritation in the surrounding area
  • any other changes that can trigger neoplasia, or abnormal cell growth
  • other conditions, such as metabolic diseases

Causes may vary from person to person and by tumor type.

Age can also increase the risk of finger tumors. As people age, their skin becomes thinner and more prone to injury, which may trigger tumor growth. The likelihood of a specific wart that affects the finger, called seborrheic keratosis, increases with age.

A doctor typically diagnoses finger tumors through a physical exam and medical history. Sometimes, people experience symptoms for a long time before receiving the correct diagnosis.

Imaging tests, such as an X-ray or MRI scan, may help detect atypical growths. X-rays may help assess the surrounding bones and joints, while MRIs may help detect fluid-filled sacs within cysts or soft tissue, in general.

If they are uncertain of the cause, a doctor may also perform a biopsy to test for any cancerous cells.

Learn more about how doctors may diagnose different tumor types.

Treatment options can differ slightly depending on whether the tumor is benign or malignant.

Benign finger tumors

Noncancerous finger tumors may be left alone if they do not cause any problems. Treatment for finger tumors depends on the type and severity.

For finger warts, a doctor may recommend topical treatments, such as salicylic acid or cryotherapy, which is freezing the wart with liquid nitrogen.

Learn more about cryotherapy for wart removal.

A doctor may recommend aspiration or surgical removal if the tumor is painful or causes other symptoms.

Cancerous finger tumors

Malignant finger tumors typically require treatment. Some options include:

It is important to catch finger tumor growth early so a doctor can provide the best treatment options.

Benign finger tumors typically do not cause any long-term complications, and a person fully recovers. However, malignant tumors can cause serious complications if left untreated.

Therefore, people must seek medical attention if they notice finger lumps or bumps. Early diagnosis and treatment can improve their outlook for finger tumors, including those caused by finger melanoma or other cancer types.

Recovering from surgery

Malignant tumors may require surgical excision. How long it takes for a person to recover from surgery depends on several factors, such as the type and size of the finger tumor.

Generally, a person can expect to wear a dressing and splint for a while. Also, physical therapy helps restore finger strength and movement.

A doctor may also recommend regular follow-up appointments or additional treatments — such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy — if necessary.

A finger tumor is a lump or growth found on the finger. Various causes can contribute to finger tumors, including infection, injury, or age-related changes to the finger.

Symptoms may include swelling, pain, stiffness, or a change in skin color. Diagnosis typically involves a physical exam as well as imaging tests, such as X-rays or MRIs in some instances.

Treatment depends on the finger tumor type and severity but may include topical treatments, aspiration, surgical removal, or chemotherapy.

Early diagnosis is key for finger tumors to improve a person’s outlook and chances of a complete recovery.