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Ask an Oncologist: What Is a Benign Tumor?
Your oncologist plays an important role in your overall wellness. This medical professional can identify whether you have a tumor and diagnose if it is benign or malignant. If it is malignant, it has cancer and poses risks to your health. A benign tumor, however, is not as big of a concern. Still, it can cause concerns and affect the way you feel.
A description of benign tumors
A tumor is a growth or mass that can appear virtually anywhere in a person’s body. It is a collection of abnormally developing cells but has no function. Unlike malignant tumors, a benign tumor is not cancerous and will not spread to other nearby tissues. In many cases, a person with a benign tumor will not suffer significant health effects. If the tumor lies on a critical organ or structure, the oncologist may need to remove or treat it.
How the tumors grow
Many times, the oncologist will not know how or why the tumor appeared in the patient’s body. There are possible links to specific factors. Genetics can play a key role in the development of tumors. People who have family members with tumors are more likely to have the growths themselves. Also, an unhealthy diet may contribute to tumor growth, as can excess stress. Some people have a benign tumor after exposure to hazardous materials or radiation.
How the oncologist will treat the tumor
If the tumor is not pressing on a blood vessel, nerve or other vital organs, the doctor may not have to treat it. Often, the oncologist will wait and see whether the growth poses any problems. Surgery is a common intervention for getting rid of tumors. The doctor will work carefully to take out the mass without compromising the structure of other tissues. The oncologist may choose to use radiation therapy to kill the mass. Some medications may also be effective at shrinking or eliminating it.
Common types of benign tumors
These growths can come in various forms. Though some people may not realize it, moles are a type of tumor. Also known as nevi, they can be harmless but may eventually develop into skin cancer. Tumors called neuromas can also grow in nerves. The oncologist will likely operate on the patient to remove these. The oncologist will frequently see osteochondromas, which are a type of benign bone tumor. These tumors usually show up in the person’s knee or shoulder.
Most people with benign tumors do not face severe health consequences. The growths can cause pain and discomfort but that interferes little with daily activities. The oncologist will determine whether treatment is necessary.
Good to know what you are facing
The diagnosis that you have a tumor can be frightening. If your oncologist shares this news, you may fear the worst. It can bring you peace of mind to know the difference between benign and malignant tumors. A cancer-free tumor will likely be harmless. Your doctor will help you understand the seriousness of this growth and how you can continue to enjoy good health.
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