Malignant tumors in the hand and wrist compose a wide variety of lesions involving skin, soft tissues, and bone. Although these lesions are found elsewhere in the body, many have unique characteristics at this anatomic location. Skin tumors predominate; the most common are squamous cell carcinomas, followed in frequency by basal cell carcinomas and malignant melanomas. Other soft-tissue malignancies are less common but may present more difficult diagnostic problems. They often appear as painless masses that sometimes have been present for months or even years and deceptively appear to be benign. A missed or delayed diagnosis of these tumors can have devastating consequences. Bone malignancies involve both primary lesions, of which chondrosarcomas are the most common, and metastatic lesions. Regardless of cell type, treatment of malignant tumors in the hand and wrist requires special considerations because of the important function of these structures. Orthopaedic surgeons should be familiar with the spectrum of these tumors, the work-up necessary to arrive at a precise diagnosis, and the treatment that will achieve the most favorable outcome.



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