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Characteristics of Benign and Malignant Neoplasms

CHARACTERISTIC

BENIGN

MALIGNANT

Cell characteristics

Well-differentiated cells that resemble normal cells of the tissue from which the tumor originated

Cells are undifferentiated and often bear little resemblance to the normal cells of the tissue from which they arose

Mode of growth

Tumor grows by expansion and does not infiltrate the surrounding tissues; usually encapsulated

Grows at the periphery and sends out processes that infiltrate and destroy the surrounding tissues

Rate of growth

Rate of growth is usually slow

Rate of growth is variable and depends on level of differentiation; the more anaplastic the tumor, the faster its growth

Metastasis

Does not spread by metastasis

Gains access to the blood and lymphatic channels and metastasizes to other areas of the body

General effects

Is usually a localized phenomenon that does not cause generalized effects unless its location interferes with vital functions

Often causes generalized effects, such as anemia, weakness, and weight loss

Tissue destruction

Does not usually cause tissue damage unless its location interferes with blood flow

Often causes extensive tissue damage as the tumor outgrows its blood supply or encroaches on blood flow to the area; may also produce substances that cause cell damage

Ability to cause death

Does not usually cause death unless its location interferes with vital functions

Usually causes death unless growth can be controlled

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