Tumors represent an abnormal multiplication and growth of cells in the body. There are two general types of tumors. Non-cancerous or benign tumors are usually harmless and grow at a slow rate. On the other hand, cancerous or malignant tumors affect the health and can spread to various parts of the body. This article will discuss in detail the differences between those two general types of tumors, how they are detected and the chances of recovery for both types.
Two General Types of Tumors
A benign tumor is a slow-growing, usually harmless mass that does not directly affect one’s health. Sometimes, they can grow for years without causing any problem to the individual. However, some benign tumors can grow large enough to press on other tissues and cause complications. Their growth may also interfere with the function of other nearby tissues, such as blood vessels, leading to life threatening conditions. Their size can also cause the body to become disfigured, and they may be removed for cosmetic reasons. If successfully removed, benign tumors do not usually grow back or cause more problems.
On the other hand, a malignant tumor grows faster and can invade surrounding tissues, causing serious health problems. The abnormal cells may spread or metastasize to other parts of the body and cause destruction of normal cells. Malignant tumors are also known as cancerous masses or cancer, and can cause death.
Malignant tumors are usually treated by a combination of surgical removal, chemotherapy, radiation, and other methods. The choice of treatment depends on various factors such as the size of the tumor, the location, organs affected, and general health of the individual. Some tumors, depending on the stage and type of tumor, respond to treatment, leading to restoration of one’s health and normal life span. However, other tumors are aggressive and are not successfully treated, leading to death.
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How to Detect
There are various ways to detect tumors and to determine whether they are malignant or benign.
After taking a complete medical history and physical examination, doctors may ask for imaging exams such as x-ray, CT (computed tomography) scan, MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), and PET (positron emission tomography) scan. Taking a sample of the tumor cells through a biopsy helps in determining the type of tumor. Other tests, such as blood tests may also be needed to confirm the diagnosis.
Chances of Recovery
The outlook or prognosis for a tumor depends on various factors as well. Benign tumors that do not cause compression of vital tissues are usually easily treated by surgical removal, which leads to complete healing. On the other hand, the chances for recovery from malignant tumors depend on the type of tumor and the stage at the time of diagnosis and subsequent treatment. Although some cancerous tumors grow slowly, some are more aggressive, invading and spreading to nearby tissues as well as distant organs. This can cause serious disease and chances of recovery may be low.