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What Is Hidradenoma?

By Misty Wiser
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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A hidradenoma is a benign cutaneous condition that primarily affects the skin on the cheek. It first appears as a small dark colored fluid-filled growth. The tumor originates in the epithelium, cells that line the surface layer of connective tissue and of the sweat glands. There are several types of hidradenomas that may develop anywhere on the body, such as an acrospiroma, a hidradenoma papilliferum, nodular hidradenomas, and a hidradenocarcinoma. Any quick-growing or new growth should always be evaluated by a physician to determine if further treatment is needed.

Clear cell hidradenomas are called acrospiromas or poromas. This growth comes from the most distal portion of the sweat gland. It is similar in appearance to a renal cell carcinoma. A biopsy of the acrospiroma is taken to ensure the tumor is benign, and treatment usually involves the surgical excision of the lump.

Nodular hidradenomas may be a sign of an underlying condition. The formation of these benign sweat gland tumors is one of the symptoms of eccrine acrospiroma. A single hidradenoma nodule may develop anywhere on the body, but is most likely to appear on the face, head, neck, legs, and arms. If the growth becomes unsightly, it may be surgically removed.

Unusual hidradenomas may appear on the genitals of females. A type of benign growth called hidradenoma papilliferum occurs on the labia majora of the vulva. It may be also be present on the interlabial folds. These hidradenomas are caused by a nodule of breast tissue that is ectopic, or located away from its normal anatomical location, and are often present at birth.

Rarely, a malignant hidradenoma or hidradenocarcinoma may arise from a sweat gland. This cancerous growth infiltrates the surrounding tissues, and may metastasize and reoccur after treatment has ended. Most commonly diagnosed in elderly men, it first appears as a slow growing mass that is firm to the touch. The growth may also spread into the underlying bone and tendons causing pain during movement.

Diagnosis of malignant hidradenomas is made after the evaluation of a biopsy in a laboratory. A carcinoma forming from the sweat gland often mimics the appearance of a benign hidradenoma. Frequently, the tumor will not have any obvious nuclear changes or require the involvement of blood vessels to continue to grow, making diagnosis of the tumor difficult. Some of these cancerous tumors develop from benign hidradenomas. Treatment for the malignant tumor usually requires the surgical excision of the growth, followed by chemotherapy and radiation if needed.

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Discussion Comments
By burcidi — On Mar 29, 2012

@turquoise-- Actually, most doctors do have a biopsy done. My doctor certainly did and it was not only to check for malignancy but to actually confirm that it's a hidradenoma and not something else.

I also think that most doctors know what to look for and can easily tell if a hidradenoma is showing signs of potential malignancy.

My hidradenoma was malignant and my doctor knew something was off when it kept growing and coming back after removal. But you are right that the only way to confirm is biopsy.

By turquoise — On Mar 29, 2012

@ddljohn-- Yea, they should have done a biopsy, I don't know why some doctors don't do this automatically. The only way to know if a tumor is cancerous or not is to do a biopsy, you cannot be sure any other way.

My sister's doctor had the same kind of approach when she developed a hidradenoma on top of her sweat glands. The doctor told her that it's probably an infected sweat gland and that it's probably benign. That is not very relieving for someone who doesn't know if they're at risk for cancer or not.

It's best to have a biopsy done and know for sure. Even if it is being removed, they should do the biopsy. My sister went to another doctor after this experience who did a biopsy and it came back benign.

By ddljohn — On Mar 28, 2012

This is kind of worrisome for me because I had a hidradenoma papillerum removed several weeks ago. It developed last month as a lump on my labia and it looked it like it grew bigger over a week. I went to a gynecologist who diagnosed it as a hidradenoma and gave me an appointment the week after to remove it.

However, he did not mention anything about it being a tumor or the possibility of a malignancy. I don't think they even did a biopsy on it. Maybe they did but didn't mention it to me because they didn't find anything.

Anyway, I'm glad I ran into this article. I'm going to give my doctor a call and ask if they did a biopsy or not. I want to make sure I'm healthy and that this hidradenoma was nothing to worry about.

Has anyone else had a hidradenoma papillerum? How was your hidradenoma treated?

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