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What Is Non-Malignant Cancer?

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  • Written By: Laura M. Sands
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 25 June 2014
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Non-malignant cancer is best described as a tumor that is not cancerous. Such tumors are simply abnormal growths consisting of older cells that should have died, but did not and, therefore, have grown as a result of new cell formations being added. This type of tumor is referred to as non-malignant cancer because it does not contain cancer cells and is never classified as a cancerous tumor.

Also known as benign tumors, non-malignant cancer growths do not metastasize in the way that cancer cells do. There is, therefore, no risk of these growths spreading to other parts of the body. A non-malignant cancer can, however, be very uncomfortable and even life-threatening if the mass puts pressure on the brain or other internal organs and disrupts their natural functioning.

Doctors typically treat non-malignant cancer by surgical removal. While cancer may spread or reoccur, there is little danger of such with a benign tumor as these growths do not typically return after they have been removed. Although such tumors do not spread and may not immediately present a serious health concern, left untreated, they may grow and cause significant health risks.

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Just like various cancers, a non-malignant cancer can occur on any part of the body. Sometimes the growth of these abnormal cells is clearly visible on the surface of the skin, but many also occur internally. It is not uncommon for tumors to grow internally for a prolonged period of time before being detected or causing any sort of pain or discomfort to a patient. Once detected, a full medical exam and testing is necessary in order to determine whether or not the tumor contains malignant or non-malignant cancer cells.

Part of the process of determining a malignancy includes a skin biopsy. By cutting and removing a small portion of a tumor’s surface, pathologists are able to test for the presence of cancerous cells. At times, a mass may also be filled with pus instead of skin and such may be drained in order to test whether or not cancerous cells exist inside of the fluid.

While people often use the term non-malignant cancer to refer to a benign tumor, medical professionals rarely, if ever, describe these masses in such a way. This is largely due to the fact that such tumors are not cancerous, nor do benign tumors typically ever become cancerous. Although benign tumors are not an indication of cancer and many do not pose a serious health threat, experts commonly recommend their immediate removal especially if discovered on an internal organ.

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