Neoplasm is the term used to describe an abnormal growth of cells within the body, and is usually associated with cancer. Healthy cells grow and replicate in a regulated manner, which means that cells die and then are replaced by new cells. A neoplasm occurs when the regulation of cell division is disrupted in some way, leading to rapid growth of cells in a particular part of the body. These growths are detrimental to health and can affect surrounding cells and tissues.
There are three types of neoplasm that can occur, which are benign, pre-malignant and malignant. The three types differ in the ability of the abnormal cells to spread, or metastasize. All neoplasms have health effects associated with them, but these differ in severity.
A benign neoplasm is a tumor that does not metastasize or spread to other cells, tissues or organs. Of the three types, this is the safest because it is non-progressive and does not invade other parts of the body. The reason that this type of neoplasm does not spread is that it is surrounded by a layer of cells, or a fibrous sheath, that contain the abnormal cells. Health problems related to benign neoplasm include compression of neighboring organs and blood vessels as the neoplasm grows in size. Examples of this type of neoplasm include moles and lesions found on the lining of the uterus, called fibroids.
A pre-malignant neoplasm is also referred to as carcinoma in situ. Like a benign neoplasm, a pre-malignant neoplasm does not spread to other organs and tissues that surround it. The cells that make up this neoplasm usually grow within the organ where the initial abnormal growth began, and lead to lesions on the surface or lining of the organ itself, such as those seen with skin cancer. In some cases, these types of neoplasm do form tumors, depending on the organ in which they are found, such as within the breast. A pre-malignant neoplasm is not cancerous, but it can become malignant if not treated.
A malignant neoplasm is basically cancer. Of the various types of neoplasm, this is the most severe as it can invade surrounding organs and tissues and also spread to other parts of the body through metastasis. During this process, cells break off of the neoplasm and travel through the blood vessels to other parts of the body. When the cancerous cell reaches the new tissue or organ, it continues to replicate and creates a new neoplasm at that site. Early detection and treatment are the keys to successfully beating a malignant neoplasm.