What does malignant cancer mean? Is malignant tumor dangerous?

Are all growths or tumors cancer?

No. A tumor can be either benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous). The word tumor itself is usually defined as "an abnormal mass of new tissue, the growth of which exceeds and is uncoordinated with that of normal tissue. " The characteristic of a tumor is cell division growth that serves no useful purpose.

What is a benign tumor? 

A benign tumor is a growth that is not cancerous. It has four main characteristics:

• It has limited growth potential and does not usually grow rapidly. It does not destroy normal cells while it is growing.

• It remains localized that is, it does not metastasize (spread to other places).

• It usually does not produce any serious side effects, unless it is growing in a confined area such as the brain.

• It usually has an orderly and well organized growth.

Are benign tumors dangerous? 

Usually benign tumors do not endanger life, even though they are examples of abnormal growth. The cells in the benign tumor usually differ little from normal cells; individually they may not be distinguished from their normal counterparts. They group themselves together to form rather normal looking patterns; their arrangement is not very different from that of the tissue in which the abnormal growth begins. In fact, the chief difference between the makeup of a benign tumor and that of a normal structure is just that there are more cells in a tumor.

A lipoma or fatty tumor is an example of a benign tumor.

What is a cyst? 

A cyst is a hollow swelling containing fluid. Cysts are usually benign, although cysts may form in cancerous tumors, either because the tumor is made up of tissue that secretes fluid or because the inside of the tumor breaks down and becomes fluid.

What is a polyp? 

Polyps are growths in a mucous surface. They can occur in the nose, vocal cords, bladder, bowel, uterus, and other places where there is mucous membrane. Most polyps do not become malignant but a small percentage are malignant from the start. Their removal is recommended by many doctors.

What do abnormal cells look like? 

Abnormal or malignant cells vary in size and shape. They sometimes look almost like normal cells but most often are quite different looking from the normal ones. The malignant cells do not organize themselves into normal patterns, although generally there is a tendency to reproduce the tissue in which they originate. For instance, skin cancer cells tend to arrange themselves in the same sheetlike layers row on row as normal skin cells. But they do so imperfectly. Sometimes the cancer cells are so dissimilar from the normal structure that it is hard to identify the tissue from which the cancer started. The imperfection of the abnormal cell is the failure of the cancer cells to mature (or differentiate, as the physicians would say).

What are the differences between benign & malignant tumours?

It has been said that cancer cells grow wild and uncontrolled. Is that true? 

Not in the true sense of the terms. What the scientists are saying is that cancer cells are growing wild and uncontrolled in comparison with the normal cells around them. If a healthy normal cell is one that is slow growing such as in the liver, then the cancerous liver cell is also slow growing. There are also fast growing and slow growing tumors, which is why different tumors are treated with different kinds of drugs. The important fact is that the cancerous cells never stop reproducing and soon there are many more of them than of healthy cells in the tissue around them. Cancer cells do die, but their death rate is lower than their birth rate.

Why are malignant or cancerous cells so dangerous? 

Mainly because they deprive normal cells of nourishment and space. In most types of cancer, the cells build up into a mass of cells that compresses, invades, and destroys surrounding tissues. This mass is often called a growth, a tumor, or a neoplasm (new growth).

Do benign tumors become cancerous or malignant tumors? 

In most cases they do not. The tumor that begins as a benign tumor usually remains a benign tumor. However, there are lesions that are considered precancerous, such as a thickening of the lining of the mouth. These should be taken care of before malignancy occurs.

What is a malignant tumor? 

A malignant tumor is made up of cancer cells. This tumor also has four main characteristics:

• It divides and keeps dividing relentlessly; it reproduces in excess of the tissue's or organ's normal needs; it has a higher rate of cell growth than the normal tissues from which the cells came.

• It assumes, to a varying degree, a different appearance from the cells from which it came; the cells fail to maintain the boundaries of the normal tissues and organs; the cells resemble immature rather than mature tissues; they are without specific structure and function.

• It loses, to a varying degree, the ability to perform the functions of the tissues from which it came; the cells either stop that function, function differently, or function incompletely.

• It has uncontrolled movement; it is capable of breaking away and spreading throughout the body; the tumor tends to invade and destroy distant areas by spreading away from the original site. This property varies from tumor to tumor.

Is it true that the more irregular the cells, the more malignant the cancer? 

This is usually the case. As a general rule, the more abnormal (the doctors refer to it as undifferentiated) the cells look under the microscope, the more malignant the cancer. The greater the difference in their appearance from the normal cell, the more active the cancer is likely to be and the more uncontrollable its course. The term differentiated refers to malignant cells which resemble normal cells.


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