In many cases, a cancerous lump feels firm to the touch, according to Health magazine. However, malignant soft tumors are also a possibility, explains Cleveland Clinic.
A soft lump felt in the breast is more often benign in nature as it generally signifies a pocket of fluid, notes Health magazine. Firm masses beneath the skin are more troublesome and can be an indication of a malignant tumor growing with cancerous cells. These masses feel solid to the touch and are not as malleable as a fluid-filled benign cyst. MedlinePlus advises patients to pay special attention to lumpy masses in the abdomen, since the trunk contains many organs known to form lumpy cancerous legions.
Malignant soft tissue lumps sometimes take longer to identify and diagnose because the elastic nature of soft tissue allows tumors to grow undetected until they become quite large, explains Cleveland Clinic. The National Cancer Institute encourages patients to consult their doctors at the first discovery of a lump, as a biopsy is the only way to determine with certainty if a mass is cancerous. During the visit, the doctor asks a series of questions about other relevant symptoms, when the mass was first noticed and its location.