There are several common lumps and bumps found in the hand and wrist. Fortunately, by far the majority is benign (non-cancerous).
One of the most common hand and wrist masses is a ganglion cyst. These usually occur in one of four common locations in the hand and wrist: dorsally by the distal interphalangeal (DIP) joints of the fingers (translation: on the back of the finger, by the joint closest the fingernail); volarly by the metacarpal phlangeal (MP) joints (in the palm, where the fingers join the hand); volarly at the radial side of the wrist (at the wrist, palm side, close to where you feel for your pulse); and dorsally at the wrist (on the backside of the wrist).
These firm, subcutaneous nodules represent leakages of lubricating fluid from the underlying joints or tendon sheaths. They are bubbles of synovial fluid, connected to a nearby joint or tendon sheath. Sometimes they are associated with arthritis.
Symptoms may include pain, decreased joint range of motion, and disfigurement. Depending on whether they are symptomatic, and their size, and their location, they may treated with aspiration (using a needle for decompression). If a cyst returns following aspiration, or if it is too large to treat successfully with aspiration, then it may be removed surgically.
Other masses can be found throughout the fingers, hand, and wrist. These include giant cell tumors (of the soft tissue, which is different than tumor of the bone), inclusion cysts, lipomas, and enchondromas. Again, by far most of these are benign and may be treated with simple excision.