- by Oncology India
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- Feb 22 2018
What is Neoplasm?
Neoplasm refers to an abnormal growth of tissue caused by the rapid division of cells that have undergone some form of mutation. The body is made up of trillions of cells that grow, divide, and die in an orderly fashion. This process is a tightly regulated one that is controlled by the DNA machinery within the cell.
Neoplasia describes when these cells proliferate in an abnormal manner that is not coordinated with the surrounding tissue. These neoplastic cells cannot be controlled in the way that normal cells can because they do not die when they should and they divide more quickly. As this excessive growth persists, a lump or a tumour that has no purpose of function in the body is eventually formed. This is referred to as a neoplasm and it may be non-cancerous (benign), pre-cancerous or cancerous.
Type of Neoplasm
Benign neoplasm: These are non-cancerous forms of tissue proliferation such as skin moles, lipomas or uterine fibroids. These neoplasms do not become cancerous and are not usually life-threatening, but depending on its location, a benign growth may cause symptoms and signs if it presses on vital neighbouring structures such as glands or nerves. This may mean treatment is required, which is usually surgery to remove a tumour without damaging any surrounding tissue. It tends to grow more slowly than a malignant tumour and does not have the capacity to invade surrounding tissue or spread to other areas of the body, as cancer can.
The cause of benign neoplasm is often not known, but factors such as exposure to radiation or environmental toxins, genetics, diet, stress, inflammation, infection and local trauma or injury may be linked to the formation of these growths. A benign tumour is of many types such as:
- Adenomas: These develop in the epithelial tissue, which is thin layering that covers organs, glands and other structures. A polyp in the colon is a common example of an adenoma.
- Fibromas: These are growths arise in the connective or fibrous tissue and they can grow in any organ.
- Hemangiomas: Here, blood vessel cells accumulate in the skin or internal organs and form a red or blue coloured growth. A birthmark is a common example of a hemangioma.
- Lipomas: These growths arise from fat cells and are the most common type of benign neoplasm found in adults, often occurring in the back, arms, neck or shoulders.
Pre-malignant or pre-cancerous
These are the masses that have not yet become cancerous but have the potential to do so if they are not treated. Sometimes, cells may undergo changes that eventually go away by themselves. The different types of premalignant changes that can arise are described below:
- Hyperplasia: This refers to an abnormal increase in the number of cells. This is not usually precancerous, but some cases of hyperplasia are.
- Atypia: When cells look slightly typical in a microscope, this can be caused by inflammation and healing and may go away once inflammation stops r the body has healed.
- Metaplasia: cells look normal under the microscope, but are not cell type usually found in that bodily tissue or area.
- Dysplasia: Cells have an abnormal appearance under the microscope and are disorganized.
The neoplasms that have become cancerous are defined as malignant. The features of malignant neoplasm are:
- Abnormal cell growth
- Capacity to invade other tissues
- Capacity to spread to distant organs via blood vessels or lymphatic channels.
If left untreated the tumour becomes larger and may eventually invade surrounding tissues or spread to other distant parts of the body via the bloodstream or lymphatic system. The treatment available for treating malignant cancer includes surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. However, once metastasis has occurred, the patient prognosis is so poor that treating the multiple sites affected is not usually viable.
Main types of cancer are:
- Carcinoma: This cancer begins in the skin or tissues that line internal organs.
- Leukemia: This form affects tissues that make blood, such as the bone marrow.
- Lymphoma: This refers to cancer that originates in the immune system.
- Sarcoma: This develops in bone fat, muscle, blood vessels, cartilage, bone or other types of connective tissue.
- Cancer of the CNS: This originates in the tissues of the spinal cord and brain.
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