Are you familiar with benign tumors?
The non-cancerous growth in the body is termed a benign disorder. Benign tumors differ from cancerous tumors in the way that these tumors do not spread to other parts of the body. Benign tumors comprise the cell mass that cannot metastasize or invade neighboring tissue.
Upon removal, benign tumors don’t grow back. They are typically covered by an outer surface or enclosed within the epithelium. Benign tumors show slow progression and growth rate than malignant tumors. Common examples of benign tumors are moles and uterine fibroids.
Are benign tumors harmful?
Benign tumors, although they will not locally invade the tissue still, some of its types can produce a negative impact on health. The progression of benign tumors may produce a mass effect that can compress tissue and cause nerve damage. Benign tumors reduce blood flow to an area of the body, causing tissue death and organ damage. Tumors within an enclosed space, such as the respiratory tract, skull, sinus, or inside bones, show prominent negative impacts on an individual’s health status. Benign brain tumors can be life-threatening but may not be life-threatening if they occur anywhere else in the body except the brain.
Mechanism of benign tumors:
1. Benign vs. Malignant:
Benign and malignant tumors differ in their pattern of invasiveness and progression. Non-invasive tumors are termed benign and invasive tumors are termed malignant tumors. Benign and malignant tumors differ in the pattern of progression also. Benign tumors show slow growth, whereas malignant tumors are fast-growing tumors. Although benign tumors are not life-threatening compared to malignant tumors, both types can create life-threatening conditions in certain situations. The general characteristics of both tumors are almost applied to one other. For example, benign tumors are highly differentiated, and malignant tumors are mostly un-differentiated, but still, un-differentiated benign tumors and differentiated malignant tumors also exist. The same is true for growth; even though benign tumors are slow-growing, fast-growing benign tumors have also been documented.
2. Multistage carcinogenesis:
Carcinogenesis is the process in which cellular alteration leads to cancer. Tumors are developed by carcinogenesis. In multistage carcinogenesis, there are sequential epigenetic or genetic changes to a cell’s DNA, and each step gives rise to more advanced tumors. Multistage carcinogenesis is further broken into three main classes
- Initiation: It’s the initial stage where genetic mutation starts in a cell
- Promotion: It is associated with transformed cells’ clonal or repeated division.
- Progression: Progression is the stage when there is more genetic mutation occurring in tumor cells.
As mentioned earlier, the most common and prominent example is a tubular adenoma, in which tumor cells frequently progress to cancer.
Types of benign tumors:
. There are different types of benign tumors.
- Adenomas: Benign tumors that develop in organs and glands are termed benign tumors. The most common one is a polyp found in the colon. The probability of such tumors progressing towards malignant is less than 1 out of 10 that can be removed with surgery if necessary.
- Fibroids: Benign tumors that are most commonly found in tumors are termed fibroids. Most of them are asymptomatic. Fibroids may become extremely painful if they grow into the uterus tissue. Such conditions required surgical removal to manage the pain.
- Nevi tumors are most commonly known as moles that may appear anywhere on the body and grow in the skin. Nevi tumors vary in shape, size, and color. The most common colors are shades of brown, tan, pink, or black. Consult your doctor if a mole changes color or size or shows progression or spread. It may be an indication of skin cancer and require surgical removal.
- Osteochondromas are the most common types of non-cancerous bone tumors in young adults and children. It occurs when there is an overgrowth of cartilage and bone. Mostly they are painless and don’t require any treatment until and unless they become painful and need a problematic condition.
- Papillomas: These tumors project in finger-like fronds and grow from epithelium tissue. These tumors can be benign or malignant. These tumors can grow in the skin, cervix, breast ducts, or conjunctiva. Direct contact with an infection such as human papillomavirus (HPV) can cause these tumors.
- Hemangiomas: These tumors occur due to inappropriate accumulation of blood vessel cells in the skin or internal organs. These are the most common type of birthmarks commonly occurring in the head, neck, and trunk. If they cause a problem in vision, hearing, or eating, then they require treatment with corticosteroids or other medication.
Causes of benign tumors:
The exact cause of benign tumors is still unknown. Its pathophysiology seems to link with certain factors, such as
- Environmental toxins such as radiation
- Genetic mutation
- Infection or inflammation
- Local injury or trauma
Benign tumors are commonly asymptomatic. Almost all types of tumors, either benign or malignant, are asymptomatic. Symptoms also depend on the type of tumor as well as its location. Generally, the symptoms of benign tumors are as follows.
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Night sweats
- Pain or discomfort
Based on locations, possible symptoms of benign brain tumors are
- Blurred vision
- Fuzzy memory
A variety of techniques can diagnose benign tumors. The key factor involved in diagnosis is determining if the tumor is benign or malignant and can be evaluated only by laboratory testing. The presence of benign tumors can be determined and located by an imaging test, including
- CT scans
- MRI scans
The blood test is also used in diagnosis to determine cancer markers. A doctor performs a tumor biopsy to determine if the tumor is benign or malignant. A biopsy may be less invasive depending on the tumor’s location.
Small and asymptomatic benign tumors don’t need treatment until and unless they grow in size or cause major health problems such as pain or impairment in normal physiological functions. Initially, the doctor takes a wait-and-watch approach. If the doctor feels the requirement of treatment, it will depend on the tumor’s location. Tumor surgery is commonly performed by using a variety of endoscopic techniques that involve surgical incisions. Recovery time depends upon the invasiveness of the surgical procedure Incase of unsuccessful tumor removal by surgery. The doctor may proceed with the treatment with radiation. Radiation therapy helps reduce the size of tumors and prevent them from growing larger.
Benign tumors are non-cancerous growth with unknown pathophysiology. Usually, they are non-invasive and show slow growth compared to malignant tumors, but in some cases, they may become malignant or life-threatening. Asymptomatic tumors require laboratory testing to diagnose them. Commonly they do not require treatment, but in case of serious health problems, they may be removed surgically or by radiation therapy.