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Benign and Malignant Tumors

The word tumor is a broad term used for any growth within the body. People get extremely horrified when someone is diagnosed with a tumor. However, the tumor doesn’t always mean dangerous. Some tumors can be fatal while others can be treated easily and effectively. Tumors can arise anywhere in the body or on the surface of the body. In order to understand which tumor is the less dangerous and which one can cause serious life threats, one should first learn about the types of tumors and their differences.

Types of Tumors

There are two main types or tumors viz., benign or non-cancerous tumors and malignant or cancerous tumors.

Benign Tumors

Benign tumors are not cancerous tumors. Cells in benign tumors are usually localized and do not spread to the other parts of the body. They can often be easily removed by surgical treatment and mostly do not come back. The word benign is a medical term used to refer conditions which are not dangerous. Benign tumors on their own are not dangerous but they can pose serious health problems if left untreated or if they are located in certain parts of the body. For example, if they are located in a part of the brain which controls vital functions like breathing they can be as much dangerous as cancerous tumors. Benign tumors are often covered by a protective layer produced by the immune system making their surgical removal easy.

Malignant Tumors

Malignant tumors are cancerous. The word malignant refers to a dangerous condition. Malignant tumors arise from abnormal cells and can spread easily to other parts of the body even via the bloodstream, lymphatic system or circulatory system. In contrast to benign tumors, they do not possess adhesion molecules that make them stick to the original site.

There are some similarities between both types of tumor.

  • Both can grow large in size
  • Both can be dangerous sometimes
  • Both can recur if cells are left over after surgery

Benign and Malignant tumors: What’s the Difference?

Benign Malignant
Non-cancerous Cancerous
No rapid growth as compared to malignant Rapid growth
Cannot metastasize i.e., cannot spread to other parts of the body. Can metastasize i.e., they can spread to other parts of the body.
Can be removed effectively by surgical treatment. Surgical cannot effectively remove them, require chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy.
They are enclosed in connective tissue. They are not enclosed in connective tissue.
They are confined to the original tissue. They are not confined to the original tissue.
Cells in benign tumor produce sticky substances to keep them attached together and cannot float away. These cells do not produce such substances so, not attached together, can break off and float away to other regions of the body.


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