What Is a Benign Adenoma?

Meshell Powell

A benign adenoma is a non-cancerous tumor that may affect any of the various glands in the body. Some of the most common glands affected include the adrenal gland, the colon, and the thyroid gland. Treatment varies according to the specific situation, although surgical removal of the tumor is the most common treatment method. Any questions or concerns about benign adenoma types or methods of treatment should be discussed with a doctor.

Colon adenomas are particularly common in those more than the age of 50.
Colon adenomas are particularly common in those more than the age of 50.

An adrenal adenoma is perhaps the most common type of benign adenoma. This type of adenoma is considered to be a functioning adenoma if it produces hormones, and it is considered to be non-functioning if it is not capable of producing or influencing hormones. Medications may be used to treat an adrenal adenoma, although most tumors of this type are surgically removed if possible.

A benign adenoma may develop in the thyroid gland.
A benign adenoma may develop in the thyroid gland.

The colon is another potential location for a benign adenoma. This type of adenoma is sometimes referred to as a benign polyp. As there is a small chance that a polyp in the colon could become cancerous, it is almost always removed as soon as it is detected. This type of tumor tends to take several years to grow into a problematic tumor and can take as long as a decade to turn cancerous. Colon adenomas are particularly common in those more than the age of 50, so periodic testing is often recommended by this age.

The body's two adrenal glands -- part of the endocrine system -- can become affected by tumor growths, such as benign adenoma.
The body's two adrenal glands -- part of the endocrine system -- can become affected by tumor growths, such as benign adenoma.

The pituitary gland is another common location for a benign adenoma. The pituitary gland is responsible for most of the hormone production in the human body. Most pituitary gland adenomas grow very slowly and may not cause any symptoms until they have grown quite large. Due to the location of the pituitary gland, it may not always be safe for the adenoma to be surgically removed. In these cases, prescription medications are used to try to control the growth of the tumor as well as any accompanying symptoms.

An ultrasound can be used to detect a colon polyp.
An ultrasound can be used to detect a colon polyp.

A benign adenoma may also develop in the thyroid gland. This type of tumor may be difficult to differentiate from a cancerous growth without the use of a medical procedure known as a biopsy. In this procedure, a small tissue sample is taken from the adenoma and sent to a laboratory for further testing. Treatment for a thyroid adenoma is not always necessary, although medications are frequently used to treat this condition.

The pituitary gland is a common site for a benign adenoma.
The pituitary gland is a common site for a benign adenoma.

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