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A tumor or tumour is the name for a neoplasm or a solid lesion formed by an abnormal growth of cells (termed neoplastic) which looks like a swelling.[1] Tumor is not synonymous with cancer. A tumor can be benign, pre-malignant or malignant, whereas cancer is by definition malignant.

A neoplasm is an abnormal proliferation of tissues, usually caused by geneticmutations. Most neoplasms cause a tumor, with a few exceptions like leukemia or carcinoma in situ.

The nature of the tumor is determined by a pathologist after examination of the tumor tissues from a biopsy or a surgical excision specimen and is then qualified as benign, pre-malignant or malignant

Though benign tumors are usually innocuous, their growth can interfere with the ability of healthy tissues to grow and thrive. In fact, they may grow large enough to apply pressure to vital body organs, resulting in serious illness or death. When benign tumors become too large, they may require surgical removal for cosmetic purposes or to preserve surrounding tissues. Once removed, benign tumors usually don’t return.

Malignant tumors grow at a faster rate than benign tumors and can cause serious health problems. They may spread to other body tissues and destroy them. These cancerous tumors often cause death.

Treatment of malignant tumors may include surgical removal, radiation, orchemotherapy. Often, there is a direct correlation between the placement of the malignant tumor and the treatment chosen. For example, a tumor confined to a relatively small local area may be removed surgically, while tumors that are more spread out may require radiation treatment or chemotherapy. Sometimes, a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation is used. Some malignant cancers cannot be cured completely. Often, a tumor that fits this description can still be treated, however, extending the life of the patient.

A patient’s chance of successful treatment or cure may depend on the time of diagnosis. In general, tumors discovered in the early stages of development tend to be easier to treat or cure than those that have been left untreated for quite some time. Also, certain types of malignant tumors tend to spread rapidly and cause death in a short time, while others grow slowly, allowing affected individuals to live with them for many years.

When a person has a tumor, his or her doctor is likely to recommend a biopsy to determine whether it is malignant or benign. Computed tomography (CT) scans,magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and positron emission tomography (PET) scans are often recommended to assist doctors in visualizing tumors and learning their precise locations and sizes. In some cases, x-rays may be used as well.