Benign Tumor vs. Malignant Tumor: What’s the Difference?

We often hear people say that cancer is cancer, and whether it’s benign or malignant, it’s all the same thing. While there are many types of cancer, they all fall into one of two categories — benign or malignant — and this distinction can be important to know if you ever find yourself facing this diagnosis. Read on to learn the difference between these two types of tumors, and how they are treated differently by medical professionals.

What is a Benign Tumor?

A benign tumor is a non-cancerous lump that grows inside your body. Benign tumors are not cancerous but they can cause serious health problems if left untreated. They usually start small and then slowly get bigger over time. A benign tumor may be caused by infection, injury, hormonal changes, genetic factors, or other reasons.

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Some benign tumors are harmless while others can spread through the bloodstream and become life-threatening. If you have any questions about a lump or swelling, talk to your doctor right away.

A benign tumor is a mass of cells that grows relatively slowly and does not invade surrounding tissues or spread to other parts of the body. In most cases, benign tumors can be removed surgically with no risk of recurrence or death. However, some types of benign tumors may grow back after surgery or cause problems if left untreated.

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What is a Malignant Tumor?

A malignant tumor is a cancerous growth that can invade and destroy nearby tissue. It can also spread to other parts of the body through the bloodstream or lymphatic system. Symptoms of a malignant tumor can include a lump, abnormal bleeding, and changes in bowel or urinary habits. Treatment for a malignant tumor may include surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy.

A malignant tumor is a type of cancer that has spread from its original location to other parts of the body. Malignant tumors are often deadly and can cause serious health problems if not treated properly.

Types of Cancers

There are many types of cancers out there but we’ll focus on the three most common ones here.

1. Breast Cancer

The most common form of cancer among women, breast cancer is caused by abnormal cells dividing uncontrollably. This causes the formation of benign (non-cancerous) lumps called tumors. These tumors may become cancerous over time. Breast cancer can occur at any age, although it is most common between 40 and 60 years old.

2. Prostate Cancer

Also known as prostate cancer, this is the second most common cancer in men after skin cancer. Prostate cancer occurs when the prostate gland becomes enlarged due to inflammation or infection. The symptoms include difficulty urinating, blood in urine, pain while passing urine, and painful ejaculation.

3. Lung Cancer

Tobacco has been known to cause cancer since the early 1900s. It was first discovered that tobacco caused lung cancer in 1847. Since then, many studies have shown that smoking cigarettes can lead to different types of cancers including oral, larynx, esophagus, stomach, pancreas, colon, rectum, bladder, kidney, cervix, endometrium, ovary, and breast.

Difference Between Benign and Malignant Tumor

A tumor is an abnormal growth of cells. Benign tumors are not cancerous—the cells are abnormal, but they don’t spread to other parts of the body and they aren’t usually life-threatening. Malignant tumors are cancerous—the cells are abnormal and they spread to other parts of the body, which can be life-threatening.

Types of Benign Tumors

There are four main types of benign tumors, including adenomas, fibroids, lipomas, and leiomyomas. Adenomas are growths that develop from glandular tissue. Fibroids are growths that develop from connective tissue in the uterus. Lipomas are growths that develop from fat cells. Leiomyomas are growths that develop from smooth muscle tissue.

Types of Malignant Tumors

There are four main types of malignant tumors: sarcomas, lymphomas, leukemias, and carcinomas. Sarcomas are cancerous tumors that develop in the bone, cartilage, fat, muscle, or blood vessels. Lymphomas are cancers of the lymphatic system, which include the lymph nodes, spleen, and thymus gland. Leukemias are cancers of the blood cells.

Treatments for Benign Tumors

There are a few different ways to treat benign tumors. The most common method is to surgically remove the tumor. However, if the tumor is small, your doctor may just monitor it instead of taking action. In some cases, radiation therapy or chemotherapy may be used to shrink the tumor.

Treatments for Malignant Tumors

Surgery is the most common treatment for malignant tumors. Radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and targeted therapy are other options. The type of treatment you receive will depend on the type and stage of cancer, as well as your overall health. Some people may receive a combination of treatments.

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Symptoms of Benign and Malignant Tumors

Though benign tumors are not cancerous, they can still cause symptoms depending on their size and location. For example, a benign brain tumor may cause headaches, seizures, or personality changes. A malignant tumor, on the other hand, is cancerous and can grow and spread to other parts of the body. As such, malignant tumors often cause more serious symptoms like fatigue, weight loss, and pain.

Comparison Table Between Benign and Malignant Tumor

Parameter Benign Tumors Malignant Tumors
Spread Cells of a benign tumor do not spread to other parts or organs of the body from the origin Cells of malignant tumors can spread to other organs or parts of the body
Rate of growth Most benign tumors have a slow growth rate Malignant tumors usually have a fairly rapid growth rate
Invasion of other body parts They do not invade nearby or adjacent tissue They often invade the basal membrane that surrounds an adjacent or nearby healthy tissue
Ability to metastasize These tumors do not metastasize or spread to other parts or tissues of the body Malignant tumors can spread through the lymphatic system or bloodstream. Furthermore, they may also spread by extending ‘fingers’ into the adjacent tissue
Chromosomes and DNA The shape, chromosomes, and DNA of cells have a normal appearance when examined under a pathologist’s microscope Cells of malignant tumors have abnormal chromosomes and DNA. Moreover, their characterization is large and dark nuclei that may have an abnormal shape
Boundaries Benign tumors tend to have clear boundaries These tumors may recur after their removal. Furthermore, they may also recur in regions other than the original site
Secretion of substances These tumors do not secrete hormones and other substances. Furthermore, a notable exception is pheochromocytomas Malignant tumors can secrete certain substances that result in weight loss and fatigue
Treatment They mostly don’t require treatment because they are usually harmless and non-threatening They may require treatment and even aggressive treatment including chemotherapy, surgery, radiation, and other medications

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Conclusion

Though both types of tumors are abnormal growths, they differ in a few key ways. Benign tumors are non-cancerous and don’t pose a threat to other parts of the body. Malignant tumors, on the other hand, are cancerous and can spread to other areas. Treatment also differs for each type of tumor. Benign tumors can often be removed with surgery, while malignant tumors may require more aggressive treatment, such as chemotherapy or radiation.