Cancer is a disease in which cells, almost anywhere in the body, begin to divide uncontrollably. A tumor is when this uncontrolled growth occurs in solid tissue such as an organ, muscle, or bone.
A tumor is an abnormal mass of tissue that forms when cells grow and divide more than they should or do not die when they should. Tumors may be benign (not cancer) or malignant (cancer). Benign tumors may grow large but do not spread into, or invade, nearby tissues or other parts of the body. Malignant tumors can spread into, or invade nearby tissues. They can also spread to other parts of the body through the blood and lymph systems. Also called neoplasm.
Tumors may spread to surrounding tissues through the blood and lymph systems. Cancer treatment aims to eradicate these abnormal cells or to slow or stop them from spreading through surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy. While removing a benign tumor is relatively easy through surgery, and the condition does not recur.
Tumors and cancers are different. A tumor develops when a lesion or lump is formed in your body due to abnormal cellular growth. In the case of cancer, this cellular growth is uncontrollable and it spreads in the body. Both can be detected with an MRI scan.
Cancer is an abnormal growth of cells. Cancer cells rapidly reproduce despite the restriction of space, nutrients shared by other cells, or signals sent from the body to stop reproduction. Cancer cells are often shaped differently from healthy cells, they do not function properly, and they can spread to many areas of the body. Tumors, abnormal growth of tissue, are clusters of cells that are capable of growing and dividing uncontrollably; their growth is not regulated.
Oncology is the study of cancer and tumors. The term "cancer" is used when a tumor is malignant, which is to say it has the potential to cause harm, including death.
Malignant vs. Benign Tumors
There are two types of solid tumors: malignant (cancerous) and benign (noncancerous). Cancerous tumors can invade nearby tissues in the body, and as they grow, some cells may travel to other places in the body to form other, “secondary” tumors, which are also known as metastases.
The original tumor is called the "primary tumor." Its cells, which travel through the body, can begin the formation of new tumors in other organs. These new tumors are referred to as "secondary tumors."
If you have been diagnosed with a tumor, the first step your healthcare provider will take is to find out whether it is malignant or benign. This will affect your treatment plan. Put simply, malignant means cancerous, and benign means noncancerous.
The cancerous cells travel through the blood (circulatory system) or lymphatic system to form secondary tumors. The lymphatic system is a series of small vessels that collect waste from cells, carrying it into larger vessels, and finally into lymph nodes. Lymph fluid eventually drains into the bloodstream.
Tumors can be benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous). Benign tumors tend to grow slowly and do not spread. Malignant tumors can grow rapidly, invade and destroy nearby normal tissues, and spread throughout the body.
Examples of solid malignant tumors include carcinomas and sarcomas. Carcinomas are cancers that start in the cells that make up the tissue lining organs such as the liver or kidneys. Sarcomas are cancers that form in the connective tissues of the body, such as the muscles, bones, and nerves.
Benign tumors do not spread or travel throughout the body. Most are not life-threatening, aside from certain brain tumors that can still cause inflammation and put pressure on delicate tissue surrounding the tumor. A doctor can perform a biopsy to determine whether a tumor is cancerous or benign. Talk with your doctor or health care provider to make sure you fully understand the risks or try using video consultation from leading international medical experts from UK, USA, and Europe. Docspert Health enables you to have an online video consultation with an international expert to discuss your condition and their medical advice, with the option of having a medical interpreter. You can book a video consultation here
. You can also receive a detailed medical report about your condition with an accurate diagnosis, the best treatment plan, and answers to your questions. Our medical team helps you understand the expert's report.
It is important to understand that not all tumors are cancerous. There are benign tumors where the growth is limited to a certain part of the body. A tumor becomes cancer when it is malignant. This means that the primary growth can generate several secondary growths thus invading vital parts of your body and spreading everywhere.
Just as all tumors are not cancerous, all cancer cases are also not characterized by tumor growth. For example, in case of blood cancer, there is no tumor involved. However, on appearance of a tumor, a biopsy becomes very important to determine if its growth is malignant or benign.
A tumor may or may not develop into cancer. Cancer on the other hand is a malignant condition in which the spread of abnormal cellular growth could become uncontrollable. In medical science, a tumor is called a neoplasm. When a neoplasm is malignant, it is called cancer.
Blood cancers do not usually take the form of a solid tumor. In leukemia, usually a cancer of certain white blood cells, immature blood cells become cancerous and “crowd out” the healthy blood cells. Lymphoma begins in lymphocytes, another type of white blood cell, and tends to travel throughout the body and land in multiple places. Another blood cancer, multiple myeloma, involves the build-up of plasma cells, mature lymphocytes that produce antibodies, in the bone marrow. Each blood cancer has its own staging system, which determines how much cancer is in the body and where it’s located.
For solid tumor cancers, treatment options can include therapies such as radiation, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and/or surgery to remove (or partially remove) the tumor. Surgery may also ease side effects caused by other therapies. Immunotherapy has had success treating some patients with lung cancer, bladder cancer, head and neck cancer, and kidney cancer, as well as melanoma and lymphoma, and is currently being tested in a wide range of cancer types.
Much like treatment for solid tumors, treatment for blood cancers can include chemotherapy, radiation, and immunotherapy. Stem cell transplants are also used to treat several types of blood cancers as well as certain noncancerous blood disorders such as aplastic anemia, immunodeficiency diseases, and metabolic disorders.
Cancer is malignant because it can be "locally invasive" and "metastatic":
Locally invasive cancer
—The tumor can invade the tissues surrounding it by sending out "fingers" of cancerous cells into the normal tissue.
—The tumor can send cells into other tissues in the body, which may be distant from the original tumor.
Every patient is different, and oncologists develop each patient’s treatment plan depending on a variety of factors, including the disease’s progression, where the cancer is located, and the overall health of the patient. If you have symptoms of cancer, seek medical help right away. Docspert Health enables you to travel abroad to consult an expert or to receive your treatment or operation
Treatment of Tumors vs. Cancer
Medication and treatment prescribed for tumors and cancer may be different.
Not all tumors are life-threatening. Even if a tumor is benign, doctors may recommend surgically removing it. Depending upon the location and size of the tumor, this surgery can be comparatively easy or it may take the patient months to heal.
Treatment options for cancer include surgery (surgically removing cancerous tissue), chemotherapy (using powerful chemicals to kill rapidly growing cancer cells), and radiation therapy (using high-energy radiation to shrink tumors and kill cancer cells by damaging their DNA). Gene therapy is also being explored, which involves using DNA as a pharmaceutical agent to treat disease.
When your doctor diagnoses you with a tumor, they will first determine if it's benign or malignant. Benign tumors are noncancerous. Malignant tumors are cancerous.
Once your doctor determines what type of tumor you have, they can decide what treatment plan is best. If you have a malignant tumor, your doctor will devise treatment depending on the stage of cancer you have.
If you have been diagnosed with a benign tumor, your doctor will provide reassurance that you do not have cancer. Depending on the type of benign tumor, your doctor may recommend observation or removal for cosmetic or health purposes.
What is Docspert Health?
Docspert Health is the leading platform in the MENA region that helps patients consult the leading international medical experts in UK, USA and Europe without the hassle and costs of travelling.
Consult a world-class expert specialized in
specializing in all Meet the expert by video or get a virtual case review with the support of our medical team and receive a comprehensive medical report from the expert that includes the accurate diagnosis, the best treatment plan for the condition and answers to all your questions.
Our medical team supports you throughout the consultation process.