Jannah Theme License is not validated, Go to the theme options page to validate the license, You need a single license for each domain name.

Understanding ‘Malignant’: Its Critical Impact on Tumors and Your Health

Education serves as the cornerstone in the face of a cancer diagnosis. Take, for example, grasping the disparities between early-stage and advanced cancers, the extent of metastasis specific cancers like breast, lung, skin, and colon malignancies experience, and why solid tumor cancers predominate over blood cancers such as leukemia and Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Upon discovery of a tumor, a lexicon of new terms emerges. These include biopsy, prognosis, chemotherapy, metastasis, and carcinoma. Among the initial concepts encountered when cancer is suspected are malignant and benign.

What is meant by “malignant”?

While discovering a tumor is unwelcome news, being informed of its detection differs from a cancer diagnosis. “Identifying a tumor marks just the beginning of determining its cancerous nature,” explains Dr. Ryan Osborne, a surgical oncologist and director of the Osborne Head & Neck Institute in Los Angeles.

Here is where “malignant” typically enters the conversation with a patient. “A malignant tumor denotes a cancerous growth capable of uncontrolled expansion and invasion into nearby structures,” clarifies Dr. Andrea Cercek, a gastrointestinal oncologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

Put simply, when a physician describes a tumor as malignant, they are indicating its cancerous nature. Once identified, “malignant tumors usually necessitate treatment to prevent their spread – treatment options may involve surgery, along with potential drug or radiation therapies,” notes Dr. Julie Gralow, chief medical officer at the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

However, there are instances when a tumor is referred to as “pre-malignant,” suggesting the absence of cancer cells but a potential for malignancy, necessitating closer monitoring.

What sets “malignant” apart from “benign”?

“In essence, ‘malignant’ denotes a dangerous or harmful tumor,” states Gralow. On the other hand, “benign tumors are non-cancerous and typically pose no threat,” according to Cercek.

Benign tumors are distinctive not only because they generally do not metastasize like malignant tumors but also due to their smooth, regular borders. Conversely, “malignant tumors often exhibit irregular borders,” as noted by Cleveland Clinic.

However, benign tumors, although non-spreading, can grow significantly if left untreated, albeit usually at a slower pace than malignant tumors, potentially reaching considerable sizes. Yet, if benign tumors remain small and do not impact vital organs or tissues, “they generally pose significantly less risk compared to malignant tumors, often none at all,” affirms Dr. Scott Eggener, co-director of the UChicago Medicine High-Risk and Advanced Prostate Cancer Clinic.

How to discern between malignant and benign tumors?

Distinguishing between malignant and benign tumors often involves another key term in cancer care: biopsy. “A biopsy is typically the definitive method to determine malignancy, involving the extraction of tissue for microscopic examination by a pathologist,” explains Gralow. She highlights that imaging techniques like X-rays and CT scans can also provide indications of malignancy, and blood tests may reveal suspicious findings. Nonetheless, “microscopic tissue analysis remains the gold standard for diagnosing cancer with certainty,” she emphasizes.

Eggener further elaborates that a biopsy not only identifies the presence of malignant cells but also categorizes the type of cancer and predicts its potential for spreading to other organs.

Back to top button