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Benign vs. Malignant Tumors: Understanding the Differences


Many people think of cancer when they hear the word “tumor.” But not all tumors are cancerous.

If you have been diagnosed with a tumor or you suspect you may have one, it’s important to know about the different types of tumors and the risks they pose.

What Is a Tumor?

A tumor is a cluster of abnormal cells that develop into a lump or growth. Depending on the type of cells it contains, a tumor can be benign, precancerous/premalignant, or malignant.

  • A benign tumor does not contain cancerous cells.
  • A precancerous or premalignant tumor contains abnormal cells that could become cancerous.
  • A malignant tumor contains cancerous cells.

What Causes Tumors?

It’s usually not possible to pinpoint the exact cause of a tumor, but certain risk factors may increase a person’s chances of developing one. These include (but are not limited to):

  • Genetics
  • Age
  • Exposure to toxins, radiation, or chemicals
  • Chronic inflammation or infection
  • Local trauma or injury
  • Diet
  • Stress

It’s important to see a doctor or oncology specialist right away if you see or feel an abnormal lump or growth anywhere on your body. If you are diagnosed with a tumor, your healthcare provider will determine whether it is benign or malignant and develop a treatment plan for you.
The infographic below explores the differences between benign and malignant tumors.



Benign vs. Malignant Tumors Infographic

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