Benign and Malignant Tumors

What are benign and malignant tumors?

By definition a tumor that is benign is not harmful. A benign tumor grows very slowly and doesn't spread to other parts of the body. Uterine fibroids as well as moles are examples of benign tumors. A malignant tumor is a cancerous growth that develops rapidly and uncontrollably, infecting other tissues around it and spreading cancerous cells to other parts of the body via the blood or the lymph system.

Causes of benign and malignant tumors

Tumors, whether benign or malignant, may be attributed to any number of factors, including:

  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Excessive exposure to sunlight
  • Exposure to environmental toxins
  • Exposure to radiation
  • Genetics
  • Smoking
  • Viruses

Sometimes tumors are detected during self-examination of breast, mouth, testicles or skin. They may also be detected during a regular screening or routine exam, or during tests and treatments for other conditions.

Diagnosis and testing for benign and malignant tumors

Whenever you feel an irregular mass of tissue, it's important to get it checked out by your doctor. If it is a tumor, your physician will order a biopsy (a tissue sample of your tumor examined under a microscope) to determine if it is benign or malignant. Benign tumors generally require little to no intervention unless the tumor has grown significantly and its size is affecting other tissues and organs.


Cancer Care

From diagnosis and throughout treatment, Main Line Health cancer specialists (oncologists) provide compassionate care for you and your loved ones through all stages of cancer treatment.

Surgical Care

General surgeons are doctors who are board certified as specialists in many different types of surgery. At Main Line Health, our general surgeons are an important part of your care team.