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Main article: neoplasms

See the article about cancer for the main article about malignant tumors.

Tumor (American English) or tumour (British English) originally means "swelling", and is sometimes still used with that meaning. Tumor meaning swelling is one of the five classical characteristics of inflammation. However, the term is now primarily used to denote abnormal growth of tissue. This growth can be either malignant or benign. It is similar in meaning to a neoplasia.

Tumor Types: Malignant vs. benign

Malignant tumors are called cancer. Cancer has the potential to invade and destroy neighboring tissues and create metastases. Benign tumors do not invade neighboring tissues and do not seed metastases, but may locally grow to great size. They usually do not return after surgical removal.

An epithelial tumor is considered malignant if it penetrates the basal lamina and is considered benign if it does not.

As people get older, they accumulate more mutations in their DNA. This means that the prevalence of tumors increases strongly with increasing age. It is also the case that the older a person with a tumor is, the higher the chances are that the tumor is malignant. For example, if a woman of 20 years old has a tumor in her breast it is very likely that the tumor is benign. However, if a woman of 70 has a tumor in her breast it is almost certain that it is malignant.

Anaplasia is a term that refers to the histologic grade of a tumor. Anaplastic tumors are poorly differentiated, meaning that their cells look primitive and do not resemble normal cells. Having anaplasia in a tumor usually means that the tumor is malignant, although a malignant tumor need not be anaplastic.

Tumor Types

Codes listed are ICD-O.

Tissue of origin Cell type Example of Benign tumor Example of Malignant tumor
(8010-8720) epithelial (8050-8080) squamous epithelium squamous cell papilloma (8052/0) squamous cell carcinoma (8070/3)
--- (8090-8110) basal cell (only in skin) basal cell tumor (8090/1) basal cell carcinoma (8090-8097)
--- (8120-8130) transitional epithelium transitional cell papilloma (8120-8121) transitional cell carcinoma (8120-8130)
--- (8140-8380) glandular epithelium adenoma (8140-8380, and others) adenocarcinoma (8140-8380, and others)
--- G cells gastrinoma (8153/1) malignant gastrinoma (8153/3)
--- bile ducts epithelium cholangiocellular adenoma (8160-8161) cholangiocellular carcinoma (8160-8161)
--- hepatocytes hepatocellular adenoma (8170/0) hepatocellular carcinoma (8170-8180)
--- tubules epithelium (kidney) renal tubular adenoma, oncocytoma (8290/0) renal cell carcinoma (Grawitz tumor) (8312/3)
--- melanocytes glomus tumor (8711/0)
melanocytic nevus (8720/0)
malignant melanoma (8720-8761)
(8800-9589) mesenchymal (8810-8830) fibrous connective tissue fibroma (8810-8823, among others) fibrosarcoma (8810-8814, 9330)
--- cardiac skeleton myxoma (8840/0) myxosarcoma (8840/3)
--- (8850-8880) adipose tissue lipoma (8850-8862) liposarcoma (8851-8858)
--- (8890-8920) smooth muscle leiomyoma (8890-8898) leiomyosarcoma (8890-8896)
--- skeletal muscle rhabdomyoma (8900-8905) rhabdomyosarcoma (8900-8921)
--- germ cells benign teratoma (9080/0) malignant teratoma (9080/3)
--- (9120-9160) blood vessels hemangioma (9120-9142) hemangiosarcoma (9120)
Kaposi sarcoma (9140)
--- (9170-9179) lymphatic vessels lymphangioma (9170-9175) lymphangiosarcoma (9170/3)
--- (9180-9210) bone osteoma (9180-9200) osteosarcoma (9180-9182) (osteogenic sarcoma)
--- (9220-9241) cartilage chondroma (9220-9221) chondrosarcoma (9220-9241)
--- (9530-9539) meninges meningioma (9530-9538) malignant meningioma (9530/3)
(9590-9999) blood cells (9590-9979) lymphoid cells --- non-Hodgkin lymphoma (9591, 9596)
Hodgkin lymphoma (9650/3-9667/3)
--- (9800-9809) hematopoietic cells --- leukemia (9800-9940)

See also: List of distinct cell types in the adult human body


Tumors are caused by mutations in DNA of cells. An accumulation of mutations is needed for a tumor to emerge. Mutations that activate oncogenes or repress tumor supressor genes can eventually lead to tumors. Cells have mechanisms that repair DNA and other mechanisms that cause the cell to destroy itself by apoptosis if DNA damage gets too severe. Mutations that repress the genes for these mechanisms can also eventually lead to cancer. A mutation in one oncogen or one tumor repressor gene is usually not enough for a tumor to occur. A combination of a number of mutations is necessary.

DNA microarrays can be used to determine if the expression of oncogenes or tumor repressor genes has been altered. Possibly in the future tumors can be treated better by using DNA microarrays to determine the exact characteristics of the tumor.

See also

bg:Тумор cs:Nádor de:Tumor es:Tumor fr:Tumeur id:Tumor lt:Auglys nl:Tumor pt:Tumor ru:Опухоль sv:Tumör

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