Types of Tumors : What is a tumor? We review the characteristics of benign, premalignant and malignant tumors.
The concept “tumor” is not always synonymous with cancer : although some of them can develop and become cancerous tumors, this kind of lump or swelling does not have to represent a threat to the health or physical integrity of the person.
In addition, there are different types of tumors with different names and characteristics depending on their shape, origin or the tissue in which they are formed. In this article we will discuss the different types of tumors (benign, premalignant and malignant) , as well as their main peculiarities, symptoms and subtypes.
What is a tumor?
A tumor, also known by the term “neoplasia,” is an abnormal mass of tissue that can vary in size and can be either solid or filled with some liquid or substance.
Almost any type of cell or tissue can become a tumor, known as a tumor or mass if they are relatively large, or nodules if they are smaller in size.
Tumors do not have to involve the appearance and development of a cancer . Only premalignant or malignant tumors can grow and become a cancer of any of the existing types.
The 3 types of tumors: benign, premalignant and malignant
As mentioned in the previous point, there are a great variety of different types of tumors, each with its own name that distinguishes it and that is usually related to its shape, its cellular origin or the type of tissue in which it appears. . Generally, tumors are divided into three groups: benign, premalignant, and malignant.
Although each of them has distinctive characteristics, there is no clear dividing line between the three large groups of tumors. Sometimes placing a specific tumor type in a category is an estimate, given that many of them are within a spectrum or undergo changes very quickly.
This means that some tumors initially diagnosed as benign may become premalignant and then malignant. Next, we explain the differences between the three main types of tumors .
1. Benign tumors
The majority of benign tumors are not carcinogenic so they do not have to be a danger to human health. Usually a benign tumor keeps its shape and does not expand, so it does not usually reappear once they are eliminated.
However, although they do not have to be associated with any type of cancer, some benign tumors can put pressure on certain nerves or blood vessels , causing pain or other bothersome symptoms.
In addition, depending on what area they are in, they can also lead to excessive production of certain hormones. Some examples of benign tumors are adenomas, fibroids, hemangiomas and lipomas.
The types of tumors known as adenomas are tumors that appear in glandular epithelial tissue, that is, in the thin membrane that covers glands, organs and other structures of our body.
Although adenomas are benign tumors that do not start as a cancer, under certain circumstances they can change and become cancerous, taking the name of adenocarcinomas . Some types of adenomas are:
- Polyp in the colon
- Parathyroid adenoma
- Basophilic adenoma
- Liver adenoma
- Adenoma of the bile duct
Another type of benign tumor is fibroma. As its name suggests, fibroids grow in the fibrous or connective tissue of any organ and can be hard or soft depending on the proportion of fibers.
There are several types of fibroids such as angiofibroma, dermatofibroma or uterine fibroids. The latter are very common among the female population and can cause pain, bleeding, pelvic discomfort and urinary incontinence.
Although this is not always the case, some fibroids can cause a series of problematic symptoms, so it may be necessary to remove them through a surgical procedure. Finally, on rare occasions, fibroids can evolve into cancerous tumorsknown as fibrosarcomas.
The third type of benign tumor is the hemangioma, which consists of a mass formed by an excess of blood cells.
Hemangiomas can be visible on the surface of the skin and usually appear at birth, gradually disappearing after the passage of months or years.
1. 4. Lipomas
Finally, lipomas are the most common form of soft tissue tumor. They are formations of fat cells, small and painless .
Although as a rule they are not dangerous, there are disagreements in the scientific community about the possibility of them changing and becoming cancerous.
2. Premalignant tumors
Premalignant tumors are tumoral formations that are not cancerous yet but that seem to be developing the peculiarities of cancerous tumors , so they require strict monitoring and medical monitoring. Here are some examples of premalignant tumors.
2.1. Actinic keratosis
Actinic keratosis or solar keratosis is a type of premalignant tumor that consists of the formation of skin patches of scaly and thick texture.
This type of tumor occurs most often in people with fair skin , especially those who are too exposed to sunlight.
2.2. Cervical dysplasia
Cervical dysplasia is a type of premalignant tumor formation that has a higher incidence in women between 25 and 35 years of age.
This type of tumor consists of a mutation of the healthy cells that line the cervix and can lead to cervical cancer .
Leukoplakia is a buccal affection that consists of the appearance of white patches on the gums, the tongue, the inside of the cheeks and the back of the mouth.
Although it has not been possible to determine a direct relationship, it is believed that leukoplakia is caused by tobacco, both smoked and chewed .
Although this type of premalignant tumor does not have to be dangerous, there is a possibility that it evolves into a cancer of the mouth.
3. Malignant tumors
The last and most feared of the types of tumors is the malignant tumor. Malignant tumors are cancerous formations that, unlike benign tumors, can grow rapidly and spread throughout the body; This process is known as metastasisand is known to suppose the incurability of the cancer and, therefore, the death of the person.
There are also different types of malignant tumors that are named after the specific types of cancer cells that form it.
Carcinomas are types of most common malignancies and are composed of epithelial cells.
The main types of carcinomas are those that affect the lung, prostate, pancreas or breast.
Sarcomas form in the outer cells of the bone marrow . They are tumors that appear in connective tissues such as cartilage, bones, fat and nerves.
A third type of malignant tumor is blastoma. In this case the tumor mass is formed from embryonic tissue and are usually more common in children.
Among the different types of blastoma are medulloblastoma, retinoblastoma, osteoblastoma and neuroblastoma.
3.4. Germ cell tumor
Finally, malignant germ cell tumors are those that germinate from the ovules and sperm, so they usually appear in areas such as the ovaries and testicles , although this type of malignant tumor can also develop in some areas of the brain, the abdomen and the thorax.
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