TUMORS (Benign) - Watsons Health

TUMORS (Benign)

A tumor is an unnecessary abnormal growth of cells. It does not invade nearby tissue or spread to other parts of the body the way cancer can. Benign tumors are not as deadly as malignant tumors. But benign tumors can be serious if they press on vital structures such as blood vessels or nerves due to its enlarging size. Therefore, sometimes they require treatment and other times they do not.

Causes of Benign Tumors

The cause is often unknown but the growth of a benign tumor might be linked to:

  • Environmental toxins, such as exposure to radiation
  • Genetics
  • Diet
  • Stress
  • Local trauma or injury
  • Inflammation or infection

There are many different types of benign tumors arising from different structures in the body. These are some of the most common types of benign tumors:

Adenomas are benign tumors starting in the epithelial tissue of a gland or gland-like structure. The epithelial tissue is the thin layer of tissue covering organs, glands, and other structures.

Fibromas (or fibroids) are tumors of fibrous or connective tissue that can grow in any organ. Although not cancerous, uterine fibroids can lead to heavy vaginal bleeding, bladder problems, or pelvic pain or pressure. Another type of fibrous tissue tumor is a desmoid tumor. These tumors can cause problems by growing into nearby tissues.

Hemangiomas are a buildup of blood vessel cells in the skin or internal organs. Hemangiomas are a common type of birthmark, often occurring in the head, neck, or trunk. Most go away on their own. Those that interfere with vision, hearing, or eating may require treatment with corticosteroids or other medication.

Lipomas grow from fat cells. Often found in adult’s neck, shoulders, back, or arms. Lipomas are slow growing, usually round and movable, and soft to the touch. They may run in families and sometimes they result from an injury. Treatment may be needed if a lipoma is painful or growing quickly.

Two other types of benign fat tumors are lipoblastomas, which occur in young children, and hibernomas.

Meningiomas are tumors that develop from the membrane surrounding the brain and spinal cord. About nine in 10 are benign. Treatment varies depending on the location of the meningioma and the symptoms it causes. Symptoms may include headache and weakness on one side, seizures, personality changes, and visual problems.

Sometimes the doctor will choose to watch the tumor for a time. If surgery is needed, its success depends on your age, the location of the tumor, and whether it is attached to anything. Radiation treatment may be used for tumors that can’t be removed.

Myomas are tumors that grow from muscle. Leiomyomas grow from smooth muscle, which is found in internal organs such as the stomach and uterus. They can start in the walls of blood vessels. In the wall of the uterus, leiomyomas are often called fibroids. A rare benign tumor of skeletal muscle is rhabdomyoma. To address symptoms, they may be shrunk with medication or removed with surgery.

Nevi (moles) are growths on the skin. They can range in color from pink and tan to brown or black. You may develop new moles until about age 40. Moles that look different than ordinary moles (dysplastic nevi) may be more likely to develop into a type of skin cancer (melanoma).

Neuromas grow from nerves. Two other types of nerve tumors are neurofibromas and schwannomas. These benign nerve tumors can occur almost anywhere in nerves that run throughout the body. Neurofibromas are more common in people with an inherited condition called neurofibromatosis. Surgery is the most common type of treatment for benign nerve tumors.

Osteochondromas are the most common type of benign bone tumor. These tumors usually appear as a painless bump or bumps near the joint such as the knee or shoulder. Often, the doctor will simply watch this benign tumor with X-rays. Surgery may be needed if the tumor causes symptoms such as pain or pressure on nerves or blood vessels.

Papillomas are tumors that grow from epithelial tissue and project in finger-like fronds. They can be benign or malignant. They can grow in the skin, cervix, breast duct, or mucous membrane covering the inside of the eyelid (conjunctiva), for example. These tumors can result from direct contact with an infection such as human papillomavirus (HPV). Some types of papillomas go away on their own. In some cases, surgery is needed to rule out cancer.


Proper physical examination and history of the patient can help the doctor with the diagnosis. The diagnostic approach of the doctor may also differ depending on where the tumor is. Certain imaging studies can be done such as ultrasound, CT scan and MRI in order to locate the tumor.



In many cases, benign tumors need no treatment. Doctors may simply use “watchful waiting” to make sure they cause no problems. But treatment may be needed if symptoms are a problem. Surgical removal is a common type of treatment for benign tumors. Other types of treatment may include medication or radiation.

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