Neoplasm|Difference Between Benign & Malignant Neoplasm

What is neoplasm

A new and abnormal growth of tissue in a part of the body, especially as a characteristic of cancer.

Before discussing the topic in details here are some terms you need to understand

malignant tumor


Anaplasia  is a condition of cells with poor cellular differentiation, losing the morphological characteristics of mature cells and their orientation with respect to each other and to endothelial cells


It is  the presence of cells of an abnormal type within a tissue, which may signify a stage preceding the development of cancer.

There are different types of dysplasia, they are hyperplasia, hypertrophy, atrophy, metaplasia


The enlargement of an organ or tissue caused by an increase in the reproduction rate of its cells, often as an initial stage in the development of cancer.

Classification of Neoplasm

  • Benign neoplasm
  • Malignant neoplasm

Benign neoplasm

  • Cells adhere to one another, and growth remains circumscribed
  • Generally not life-threatening unless they occur in a restricted area (e.g., skull)
  •  Classified according to tissue involved (e.g., glandular tissue [adenoma], bone [osteoma], nerve cells [neuroma], fibrous tissue [fibroma])

Malignant neoplasm

  • Cells are undifferentiated (anaplasia) and rapidly dividing
  • Cells infiltrate surrounding tissue
  • May spread (metastasize) by direct extension, lymphatic permeation, and embolization; diffusion of cancer cells can occur by mechanical means and produce secondary lesions
  • Membranes of malignant cells contain specific proteins (tumor-specific antigens)
  • Tumours are classified according to tissue involved (e.g., glandular epithelial tissue [adenocarcinoma], epithelial surface tissue [carcinoma], connective tissue [sarcoma], melanocytes [melanoma])

Difference Between Benign and Malignant Neoplasm

Benign NeoplasmMalignant Neoplasm
Grow SlowlyGrow rapidly
Usually encapsulated; do not infiltrate surrounding tissuesRarely encapsulated
Do not spread but remain localizedInfiltrate surrounding tissues, spread via lymph stream and blood and set up secondary tumors in distant sites
Do not tend to recur when removed surgicallyFrequently tend to recur after surgical removal as a result of infiltration
Cells usually closely resemble those of normal tissues from which they ariseCells usually do not resemble those of normal tissuse
Produce minimal tissue destructionProduce extensive tissue destruction as a result of metastasis and infiltration
Do not produce typical cachexiaProduce typical cancer cachexia
Do not cause death to host except when located in areas where they produce pressure or obstruction to the vital organsAlways cause death unless removed surgically before they metastasis
Characteristics of Neoplasm

Staging of Tumors

Describes the extent and anatomic spread of a tumor at a given time, usually at diagnosis, and serves as a guide for prognosis and treatment

TNM Classification Of Tumors

  • T designates primary tumor
  • N designates lymph node involvement
  • M designates metastasis
  • A number (0 to 4) after any of the above letters designates the degree of involvement
  • TIS designates carcinoma in situ or one that has not infiltrated

T0 indicates no evidence of a primary tumor

  • T1, T2, T3, or T4 describes a progressive increase in the tumor, size, and regional tissue involvement; the higher the number is, the larger the tumor.

N refers to regional node involvement

  • N0 means that regional lymph nodes are not abnormal.
  • N1, N2, N3, or N4 indicates an increasing degree of abnormal regional lymph nodes.

M refers to distant metastasis

  • M0 means no evidence of distant metastasis.
  • M1 indicates distant metastasis.

Grading of Tumors

Classifies a tumor as to the degree of differentiation or lack of differentiation (anaplasia) from the normal cells

  • The less a cancer cell resembles the normal cell of tissue origin, the greater its degree of anaplasia and the higher its numerical grade (grade 1 to 4).
  • The higher the grade is, the poorer the prognosis.

G1 = well differentiated, resembles the normal cell

G2 = moderately well differentiated, some anaplasia

G3 = poorly differentiated, more anaplasia

G4 = very poorly differentiated to undifferentiated, highly anaplastic

Early Warning Signs of malignant disease

  1. Change in bowel or bladder habits
  2. A sore that does not heal
  3. Unusual bleeding or discharge
  4. Thickening or lumps in the breast or elsewhere
  5. Indigestion or difficulty in swallowing
  6. Obvious change in wart, mole, or freckle
  7. Nagging cough or hoarseness
  8. Unexplained weight loss


Goal of Treatment

  • To destroy or eliminate malignant cells while minimizing damage to normal cells
  • To cure the client and to ensure that minimal functional and structural impairment results from the disease
  • If a cure is not possible:
  • a. Prevent further metastasis.
  • b. Relieve symptoms.
  • c. Maintain a high-quality life for as long as possible.

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