Benign tumors are masses that do not exhibit the characteristics associated with cancerous tumors. Often, the tumor is self-contained and does not imbed itself into surrounding organs and tissue. While tumors of this type are not cancerous, there are often still good reasons for removing them from the body.
A benign tumor will differ from a malignant tumor in several important ways. First, a tumor that is benign will not permeate surrounding tissue and cause damage to the structural integrity of organs. By contrast, malignant tumors will invade tissue in the area of the growth and also begin to spread or metastasize to lymph nodes and any organs in the immediate vicinity of the mass.
The rate of growth is also another sign that a tumor is malignant or benign. A malignancy will grow at a relatively fast rate, with changes in size noticeable in a very short period of time. A tumor that is benign will grow at a much slower rate, with very little change in size or shape over several weeks or months.
Even though a benign tumor does not attack and embed itself in surrounding organs, there are still many instances where removing the tumor is necessary. The mass of the tumor may be pressing against vital organs or interfering with the function of various tissues in the body. When this happens, the body may attempt to produce a greater supply of various hormones that is actually needed. This action in turn interferes with the proper function of any organ that is inundated with excess hormones.
Depending on the location and structure of the mass, there are several common types of benign tumors. Two of the most common are simple moles and uterine fibroid tumors. Types of tumors that tend to develop and interfere with hormone production include pituitary adenomas, thyroid adenomas, and adrenocortical adenomas.
When a tumor is identified, it is not unusual for a physician to recommend that the tumor be removed. There are two reasons for this. First, while the tumor is not currently malignant, it may exhibit some attributes that lead the doctor to believe it could become malignant. A second reason for removing the tumor is that the location of the mass could be the cause for a number of pains and discomforts that will be alleviated when the mass is no longer present in the body.
In many situations, even a tumor judged to be benign is tested after removal to ensure that there is no beginning signs of malignancy that were not identified earlier in the treatment process. When there is evidence that the benign tumor was in the process of developing into a malignancy, healthcare providers can take additional steps to ensure there is no lingering residue in the body that could lead to the development of cancer at a later date.