Difference Between Benign and Malignant Tumors


The onset of a tumor is a scary moment in anyone’s life. This frightening prospect becomes even scarier when a person does not know the difference between a tumor that is benign, versus one that is malignant. Developing a tumor is never ideal, but it is important to know about the major differences between benign and malignant tumors so that you can plot the appropriate course of action from a medical standpoint.

Benign and malignant are the two main medical classifications when it comes to tumors. The main difference between benign and malignant tumors is that a benign tumor remains in one location and does not begin to invade other areas of the patient’s body or any of the surrounding tissue, while malignant tumors are able to spread and infect other areas of the body and the surrounding tissue.

Benign Tumors

As a general rule of thumb, benign tumors are not considered to be as dangerous or life threatening as their malignant counterparts. On rarer occasions, a benign tumor can present the same level of danger, so it is important to receive the proper medical attention and allow a trained physician to provide a diagnosis.

On the other hand, a malignant tumor can kill a patient who does not receive the proper medical treatment and in many cases, the patient’s long term health will remain at risk. A severe malignant tumor can kill you and even a moderately severe malignant tumor can lead to a number of additional health concerns.

Should a patient learn that their tumor is benign, this means that they do not have cancer. While benign tumors are very similar to cancer, due to the growth of harmful, abnormal cells, their lack of ability to spread around the body makes them much easier to cure if they are detected early in the process.

A benign tumor’s overall threat level is determined by its location in the body. Should the tumor be placed in a location that places undue pressure on the nervous system, even the most benign of tumors can pose a very real risk to your long term health. If a tumor is located on a person’s brain matter or an artery, this can also be very problematic.

Poor dietary habits, untreated infections, inflammation caused by stress and traumatic injuries at the tumor’s specific location are all common causes of the benign tumor. While some benign tumors can eventually become malignant, this is a very rare occurrence. Most benign tumors respond well to traditional courses of treatment and the medical prognosis tends to be quite favorable.

Malignant Tumor

However, a patient who is diagnosed with a malignant tumor must immediately undergo much more intensive forms of treatment, since a malignant tumor is a cancerous mass. Tumors of this nature are much more dangerous, since they are imbued with the ability to multiply over and over again.

In many instances, a malignant tumor will spread like wildfire throughout the body, which severely limits the available courses of treatment. It becomes much more difficult for doctors to remove a cancerous mass that has begun to spread to the areas of the body where vital cells and tissue are located.

Malignant tumors are caused by the formation of cells that are abnormal and begin to travel through the bloodstream, as well as the patient’s circulatory system and their lymphatic system. Benign tumors have molecules with chemical adhesives attached which provide them with an anchor to the site where the growth has taken place, while malignant tumors do not.

While the medical community has not reached a perfect consensus when it comes to the cause of malignant tumors, there are a number of factors that are believed to be catalysts. Patients who are obese, smoke tobacco cigarettes, choose a poor diet, live in areas of heavy environmental pollution, are exposed to heavy metals and have excessive contact with household toxins are all at increased risk for developing malignant tumors.

Malignant tumors do not always have symptoms that manifest themselves right away. Patients who experience malignant tumors often report feeling painless lumps before experiencing more severe symptoms. One of the reasons why a malignant tumor is able to grow so large before causing discomfort to the patient is its elasticity. Their rapid growth causes them to press up against crucial nerves, blood vessels and vital organs, leading to the onset of significant pain to the patient.

Understanding Tumors

There are also precancerous tumors that are not able to be classified into either tumor grouping. They fall in between the malignant and benign categories. Precancerous growths will usually appear to be malignant, but do not possess the markings needed for a definitive diagnosis. Unless irrepressible cell growth takes place, these tumors remain unclassified. Should irrepressible cell growth commence, the tumors are then classified as being malignant.

Patients who wish to avoid the growth of benign or malignant tumors must learn about the proper methods for prevention. In order to avoid both of these tumor types, a person must take proper care of their immune system by eating the proper diet and making sure they receive plenty of rest. As always, development of a healthy overall lifestyle is the most important line of defense.

A malignant tumor is much more dangerous and life threatening than a benign tumor, but both can kill you unless you receive the correct course of treatment. Be sure to visit your trusted physician and receive a regular checkup, so that you can remain vigilant about safeguarding your immune system.