What is the difference between benign and malignant tumor?
The development of cancer is a complex process. Between the development of the individual cancer cell and the occurrence of a detectable cancer disease can happen in several years. Tumors can have different causes, but they always have a degenerate cell with a defective genome.
The causes of a tumor can be accidental, but also accumulated DNA damage due to risky behavior such as smoking. Because the starting point of a cancer is the genome. The genes, the carriers of the hereditary cause damage that can no longer be repaired. Three groups of genes play a role as the cause of tumors: the oncogenes, the suppressor genes and the repair genes.
All three genes are also found in healthy cells and regulate the growth and differentiation (“maturation”) of the cells. oncogenes promote cell growth, suppressor genes suppress it.
If changes occur in these genes, so-called mutations, the body’s repair system intervenes and corrects the damage. This happens in most cases without problems, the cell continues to work with intact genome as before.
Cancer and its causes: the tumor often grows secretly
The reasons for the slowly advancing cancer, which is why the body’s repair system fails, can be manifold. Thus, cancer cells have sophisticated ways of making themselves “invisible”: they can camouflage themselves, for example, by adopting typical characteristics of healthy cells or properties of other tissues.
The programs that are responsible for the normal aging process and the death of the cells can also fail in the cancer cells. In this case, the cancer cells become almost immortal-also a cause of the uncontrolled proliferation that makes up a tumor.
Some cancers develop very quickly and aggressively. However, sometimes cancer cells continue to grow in secret for a long time. For example, the development of a single cancer cell and the occurrence of a detectable cancer can lead to years, sometimes even decades.
Metastasis: The tumor spreads
Malignant tumors, in contrast to benign tumors, tend to spread into the body beyond the place of origin. In doing so, they overcome the boundaries of the tissue layer in which they are formed and gradually grow into the surrounding tissue. In addition, many types of cancer use the lymph and blood vessel system for entering other organs and colonizing the secondary tumors, known as metastases.
Tumors form metastases depends essentially on the particular type of tumor and the origin of the disease. This will also determine where and which organs form metastases in the body.
Distinguishing differences between benign and malignant tumors
Whether a tumor is benign or malignant affects the expected course of the disease and the choice of therapy. Benign tumors can become very large, but as a rule they do not grow beyond the limits of their developmental stage. They do not form metastases.
On the other hand, malignant tumors can overcome the organ boundaries and continue to grow unstoppably. They also enter the lymphatic or blood vessels at an early stage and spread throughout the body. Sometimes this happens at a stage in which cancer has not yet been detected.
Characteristics of benign tumors
- Slow growth
- Sharp limitation
- Do not grow into other tissues
- Do not enter into blood vessels
- Do not form daughter tumors (metastases)
- Bening tumors are considered to be cured after their removal
- In the microscope “mature” cells are shown
Characteristics of malignant tumors
- Rapid growth
- Blurred limitation of cancer
- Penetrate into blood vessels and “use” them for the spread
- Unrestrained growth, the surrounding tissue being destroyed
- Strong tendency to relapse after initially successful cancer therapy
- Can form daughter tumors (metastases)
- Microscope shows indistinct, “immature” cells.
- The causes of tumors or accumulated genetic defects include smoking, alcohol consumption, the consumption of a lot of red meat, excessive sunshine and a number of other cancer triggers