Giant Cell Tumours

Giant cell tumours are the second most common growth found in the hand, secondary to ganglions. This condition involves the proliferation of the cell type that is found histologically in this specific tumour. These tumours are typically benign and should not be confused with giant cell tumours of the bone, which are malignant tumours found around the large joints, predominantly of the lower limb. The greatest problem with giant cell tumours is the term, which contains both ‘giant’ and ‘tumour’.   The name of this soft tissue mass is linked to the histological giant cells that we see under the microscope in these cells. Giant cell tumours arise from a tendon sheath or joint. They are slow-growing and progressive, usually growing in and around the joint of the fingers or palm of the hand. The lesions are typically firm and hard, and over time, they can become painful due to the casing and compression of local nerves and soft tissue structures.

It is sometimes difficult to dissociate between ganglions and giant cell tumours.   Further imaging can reveal the difference from a radiological point of view, although this is not necessary as excision of these lesions is curative.

Signs of giant cell tumours include the following:

  • Visible lumps
  • A break (fracture) in the bone
  • Fluid accumulation
  • Limited mobility


The treatment for giant cell tumours is surgical excision, as these lesions continue to grow if treated conservatively. The aim of the surgery is to excise the whole lesion and remove it from the local soft tissue structures. When the giant cell tumour comes out of a joint, a synovectomy is performed on the joint to make sure that complete excision of all satellite lesions is done. Giant cell tumours have a recurrence rate of 3-5%, but in general, surgical excision is curative.


1Is a giant cell tumour a serious condition?
Giant cell tumours are benign growths that affect nearby tissue and bones.
2Can giant cell tumours migrate to the lungs?
Giant cell tumours can metastasise to the lungs. However, this rarely occurs.
3Is there a way to manage a giant cell tumour?
The only way to manage a giant cell tumour is to remove it surgically.

Please read the above text for more in-depth information to help answer these questions. It's important to consult with our qualified healthcare professionals to ensure the appropriate diagnosis and treatment plan for your specific situation.