Tumors - Should we really fear them?
Tumors are an abnormal lump of masses often known as the neoplasm. They can be either solid or fluid-filled and can vary as according to the portion of the body they are found. Often people associate tumors to be of cancerous in nature and this is not true for all cases. While the occurrences of tumors should not be treated lightly, it must also not be made a chaotic subject of chatter. All tumors are not cancerous in nature, some are benign (Not cancerous), pre-malignant (Pre-cancerous) while some sort of tumors is malignant (cancerous) in nature. Variety of names have been assigned to tumors based on their size, shape and the kind of tissue they appear in. But all in all, they do not possess a life threat unless they are ignored through stages.
What are tumors? – Some facts
Tumors are actually lump or swelling arose due to the breaking or swelling of tissues. When we use the term Tumor, it is basically used in a generic sense. It becomes a lump of mass when the mass is defined to be of at least 20 mm (0.787 inches) in diameter at its widest point while a nodule is less than 20 mm at the widest point. Most tumors do not spread to other parts but their sizes may increase over a period of time till they are dealt with medication. Fibroids are benign tumors which grow on fibrous or connective tissues.
Sometimes, cancerous stem cells can also play a big role in the growth of tumors as per the three studies published in the journals ‘Nature and Science’ in August 2012. As per scientists, cancers might have their own stem cells and which have an impact on the growth of tumors. There can be three types of tumors as per their occurrences in the body –
- Benign (Not Cancerous)
- Pre-Malignant (Pre-cancerous) and
- Malignant (Cancerous)
Naming of Tumors and cancers
The word cancer is always used with a prefix which determines the type and part of the body affected by it. while the prefix tells us the part of the body affected by cancer, the suffix tells us the type of cancer it is.
The common prefixes are –
- Uro- (Bladder)
- Retino –(Eye)
- Osteo –(Bone)
- Neuro- (brain)
- Myo- (muscle)
- Myelo- (bone marrow)
- Melano- (pigment cell)
- Lympho- (white blood cell)
- Lipo- (fat)
- Hepato- (liver)
- Hemangioma- (blood vessels)
- Erythro- (red blood cell)
- Chondro- (cartilage)
- Adeno- (gland).
Some of the suffixes which are used commonly are Sarcoma, Carcinoma or blastoma.
Types of Tumors –
Benign Tumors are those kinds of lumps which physically have no context on the human body. They cannot metastasize or in other words, spread. Some of the examples of such kind of lumps are Uterine Fibroids and moles. It is always in the dormant stage. Most of the benign tumors are not harmful and cancerous in nature but some may press against the nerves or blood vessels and cause pain at times. In the endocrine glands, such tumors might result in excessive production of some hormones. Some of the examples of Benign tumors include –
- Adenomas – arise from glandular epithelial tissue
- Fibroids –grows on fibrous or connective tissue of any organ in the body
- Hemangiomas – collection of many blood cells
- Lipomas –soft-tissue tumor and consist of adipose
A premalignant tumor is also called precancerous tumor and it is in the progression of becoming a headache if not given due attention early on. These can metastasize into bigger tumors who can later become cancerous in nature. Examples of such tumors are:
- Actinic Keratosis – Pre-malignant growth of crusty, scaly and thick patches of skin
- Dysplasia of the cervix – growth can lead to cervical cancer in the uterus. Very common in women.
- Metaplasia of the lung –occurs in the bronchi, tubes, and windpipe to the lungs
- Leukoplakia – thick white patches form on the gums, the bottom of the mouth, inside of cheeks.
These kind of tumors are cancerous in nature and have the tendency to become worse in the coming times. These have the potential to result in a death and leave the patient in a precarious situation. These kinds of tumors grow fast and have the tendency to spread as well. some of the examples of such malignant tumors may be –
- Carcinoma – derived from the organs such as Stomach, prostate, pancreas, lung, liver, colon or breast and impact skin or tissues.
- Sarcoma – start off in the connective tissue such as cartilage, bones, fat, and nerves.
- Lymphoma/Leukemia- cancer arises from the blood-forming cells. These originate in the marrow and generally mature in the blood or lymph nodes.
- Germ cell tumor –arise from the germ cell, pluripotent cells.
- Blastoma –derived from embryonic tissue, more common in children than adults.