Differences between malignant and benign tumors

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If you are diagnosed with a tumor, your doctor will first determine whether it is malignant or benign, as this will affect your treatment plan. In short, malignant means malignant and benign means benign. Learn more about how any of these diagnoses affect your health.

Get Medication Information / Joshua Son

What is a tumor?

A tumor is an abnormal formation or growth of cells. When the cells of a tumor are normal, it is benign. Something went wrong, they grew and bumps formed. When cells are abnormal and can grow out of control, they are cancer cells and a tumor is malignant.

To determine if a tumor is benign or cancerous, a doctor can take a sample of cells through a biopsy procedure. The biopsy is then looked at under a microscope by a pathologist, a healthcare provider who specializes in laboratory investigations.

Benign tumors: benign

If the cells are not cancerous, the tumor is benign. It does not penetrate nearby tissues and does not spread to other parts of the body ( metastasize ). A benign tumor is less of a concern if it doesn't press on nearby tissues, nerves, or blood vessels and cause damage. Uterine fibroids or lipomas are examples of benign tumors.

Benign tumors may need to be surgically removed. They can grow very large, sometimes up to several kilograms. They can be dangerous, for example, when they arise in the brain and overwhelm the normal structures of the confined space of the skull. They can press on vital organs or block channels.

Some types of benign tumors, such as intestinal polyps , are considered precancerous and are removed to prevent malignancies. Benign tumors usually do not come back after removal, but if they do come back, they are usually in the same place.

Malignant tumors: cancerous

Malignant means that a tumor is made up of cancer cells and can invade nearby tissues. Some cancer cells can travel to the bloodstream or lymph nodes, where they can spread to other tissues in the body. This is called metastasis. Cancer can occur anywhere in the body, including the chest, intestines, lungs , reproductive organs, and blood. and leather .

For example, breast cancer begins in the breast tissue and can spread to the lymph nodes in the armpit if it is not detected and treated early. Once breast cancer has spread to the lymph nodes, cancer cells can travel to other parts of the body, such as the liver or bones.

So breast cancer cells can form tumors in those areas. A biopsy of these tumors can reveal characteristics of the original breast cancer tumor.

Differences between benign and malignant tumors

While there are exceptions, for example, although most malignancies grow rapidly and most benign tumors do not, there are examples of slow-growing cancers and fast-growing benign cancers, the main differences between the two types of tumors are obvious and consistent. Here's a snapshot of the main ones:

Characteristics of benign tumors

  • Cells do not spread

  • Most grow slowly

  • Do not invade nearby tissues

  • Not metastasize (spread) to other parts of the body

  • Have clear boundaries

  • Under the pathologist's microscope, the shape, chromosomes, and DNA of cells appear normal.

  • It does not secrete hormones or other substances (exception: adrenal pheochromocytomas).

  • It may not require treatment unless it poses a health hazard.

  • It is unlikely to recur if it is removed or requires additional treatment, such as radiation or chemotherapy.

Characteristics of malignant tumors

  • Cells can spread

  • They usually grow quite fast

  • They often penetrate the basement membrane surrounding nearby healthy tissue.

  • It can be transmitted through the bloodstream or lymphatic system, or by sending fingers into nearby tissues.

  • May recur after removal, sometimes in areas other than the original site

  • Cells have abnormal chromosomes and DNA, characterized by large, dark nuclei; it may be abnormal

  • May release substances that cause fatigue and weight loss (paraneoplastic syndrome)

  • Aggressive treatment may be required, including surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and immunotherapy drugs.

Can a benign tumor turn malignant?

Some types of benign tumors rarely turn malignant. But some types, such as adenomatous polyps (adenomas) in the colon, have a higher risk of turning into cancer. That is why polyps that are benign are removed with a colonoscopy. Removing them is one way to prevent colon cancer.

It is not always clear whether a tumor is benign or malignant, and your healthcare provider may use several different factors to diagnose a particular disease. You may get an uncertain diagnosis.

The biopsy may also find precancerous cells or miss an area where cancer cells are more common. In these cases, what was considered benign could turn malignant as it grew and developed further.

What does your tumor diagnosis mean?

If you have been diagnosed with a malignancy, your oncologist (oncologist) will develop a treatment plan. with you depending on the stage of the cancer. Early cancers have not spread as much, if at all, while later cancers have spread to more areas of the body.

A biopsy, surgery, and / or imaging tests may be required to determine the stage of the cancer. After determining the stage of the cancer, therapy can begin.

If you have been diagnosed with a benign tumor, your doctor will confirm that you do not have cancer. Depending on the type of benign tumor, your doctor may recommend observation or removal for cosmetic or medical purposes (for example, the tumor may damage an important organ in your body).

Get the word of drug information

The diagnosis of a tumor can be worrisome. Be sure to discuss your concerns with your doctor and ask if there are any support groups you can join. And remember, the sooner you or your healthcare provider find a tumor, the more likely it is treatable. So if you notice anything unusual about your body, don't wait to report it to your doctor.

Frequently asked questions

  • The average five-year survival rate for patients with any type of brain tumor is 75%, but this depends on the age, type of tumor, and the exact location in the brain. For benign tumors, the 5-year survival rate is 91%. In the case of malignant tumors, this figure drops to 36%.

  • Surgical removal of the tumor is often used for both benign and malignant tumors. This is often the only treatment needed for benign tumors. In many cases, benign tumors are simply seen and do not require removal. Malignant tumors may or may not be removed and may also require radiation and / or chemotherapy.

    However, the treatment for each type can vary depending on the size of the tumor, the location, the age of the patient, the stage of the malignant cancer, and the general health of the patient.

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