Pilomatricoma, also called pilomatrixoma or calcifying epithelioma of Malherbe, is a type of skin tumor. It originates from the hair follicle and is commonly found on the head and neck. These cutaneous conditions are generally benign, but there are some cases of malignant tumors. When the tumors are cancerous, the condition is called pilomatrical carcinoma.
The human body is comprised of types of cells that each have specific functions and roles. With pilomatricoma, abnormal cells that closely resemble hair cells calcify, or harden, and join together. A mass then forms under the skin.
Tumors occurring as a result of pilomatricoma usually appear singularly. In rare cases, however, multiple tumors can appear. Children under the age of 10 are most commonly affected. Research has shown that female children are diagnosed with Malherbe calcifying epithelioma more often than male children.
Although each patient is unique and may experience different symptoms, the most common symptom of pilomatricoma is the appearance of a mass under the skin. The tumor may or may not be painful depending on whether or not an infection has developed. Pain may also be evident depending on how close to nerves the tumor sits. Most masses can be found on the head, face, or neck. In some cases, tumors also appear on the arms.
Pilomatricoma is first diagnosed by a physical exam. When a tumor is suspected, doctors may recommend a biopsy, which is a sample of the tumor. Through this test, results can show if it is benign or malignant. If abnormal or cancerous cells are found, the tumor is classified as malignant.
After diagnosis and testing, doctors can suggest pilomatricoma treatment options. The patient’s medical history, overall current health, and age are all considered. Unless the tumor is malignant, surgical removal is common because the chances of regrowth are low. If malignancy is evident, removal followed by chemotherapy or radiation is often recommend to prevent the cancer cells from spreading to other parts of the body, such as the bones.
Early detection is the key to providing proper treatment in a quick manner. The tumors associated with pilomatricoma grow very slowly, making detection and treatment a bit easier but difficult in the earliest developmental stages. In the beginning, the patient may appear to have other conditions that have odd growths under the skin. Testing helps rule out other possible diseases.