Cancer vs. Tumor

Difference Between Cancer And Tumor Cancer Cancer is a disease of uncontrolled cell growth. It is one of…

Difference Between Cancer And Tumor


Cancer is a disease of uncontrolled cell growth. It is one of our society’s most serious health problems, second only to heart disease as a cause of death in the United States. In some age groups, it is the leading killer. Each year, more than 1 million Americans develop cancer.

How Cancer Develops

Normal cell growth is controlled by signals that tell cells to divide when there is a need for new cells and then to stop dividing when that need is met. When these signals do not function normally, a neoplasm (meaning “new growth”), or tumor, forms.

The reason this happens is unclear. Changes in cell behavior may be related to a tiny piece of genetic material in the cell called a proto-oncogene. Another gene, called a tumor suppressor gene, is able to stop abnormal cell division. But if this gene is lost or becomes damaged, a tumor can develop.

Tumors can be benign or malignant. Both kinds of tumors are abnormal. However, malignant tumors are usually much more harmful than benign tumors.

A tumor is benign when the cells of the tumor are enclosed in a membrane that keeps them from escaping into other bodily tissues. Healthy tissues can be damaged by benign tumors when the cell mass grows large enough to compress them. Benign tumors are not considered cancerous.

Malignant tumors are cancerous. Their cells, which are not enclosed in a membrane, can easily invade and destroy nearby tissues even when the primary tumor is still very small. In addition, the cells of a malignant tumor can enter the circulatory system or lymphatic system. This enables the cancerous cells to travel throughout the body and establish secondary cancers in distant organs. When this happens, the cancer is said to metastasize. These secondary cancers are known as metastases. Uncontrolled growth, disruption of healthy tissues, and the ability to metastasize are the characteristics of a cancerous tumor.


Tumor, a swelling or abnormal growth. It can be described as one of the cardinal signs of inflammation, it has since become synonymous with tissue, including cancerous tissue, that lacks normal growth restraints.

The suffix -oma is used as a designation for tumor. Carcinomas and sarcomas by definition are, respectively, cancerous tumors of epithelial and connective tissues, while adenomas are noncancerous tumors of the glandular epithelium. (Epithelial tissue lines the body’s internal and external surfaces.) There are, however, exceptions to this nomenclature. Leukemias, for example, are malignant tumors of leukocytes (white blood cells).




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