A benign tumor is an abnormal but noncancerous collection of cells. It can form anywhere on or in your body when cells multiply more than they should or don’t die when they should. A benign tumor is not malignant. It grows more slowly, has even borders and doesn’t spread to other parts of your body. Many benign tumors don’t require treatment.
A tumor is an abnormal collection of cells. It forms when cells multiply more than they should or when cells don’t die when they should. A tumor can be malignant (cancerous) or benign (not cancerous).
A benign tumor is usually not a serious problem unless it presses on a nearby structure or causes other symptoms. Another word for tumor is neoplasm.
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A benign tumor has distinct, smooth, regular borders. A malignant tumor has irregular borders and grows faster than a benign tumor.
A malignant tumor can also spread to other parts of your body. A benign tumor can become quite large, but it will not invade nearby tissue or spread to other parts of your body.
Some benign tumors can become cancerous over time (for example, in your colon or skin). If you have a benign neoplasm, a healthcare provider should monitor it regularly.
A benign tumor can grow anywhere on or in your body. These neoplasms have different names depending on where they develop:
Scientists don’t yet understand what causes most noncancerous tumors. Some types may be related to genetics or exposure to chemicals or radiation.
Many benign neoplasms don’t cause any symptoms at all. But if they grow large enough to press on bodily structures, they may cause:
On the skin, you can often see and feel benign tumors. They may be:
If you have any symptoms or see or feel anything that looks abnormal, you should talk to a healthcare provider. Certain tests can help determine whether a tumor is benign or malignant.
Depending on where the tumor is, tests may include:
Many noncancerous tumors don’t need to be treated or removed. If a neoplasm isn’t growing quickly or causing any problems, your healthcare provider may recommend keeping an eye on it.
However, if a benign tumor presses on another body structure or causes symptoms, your healthcare provider may recommend surgery to remove it. Some people also choose to have benign tumors removed for cosmetic reasons (for example, a tumor on the skin).
Scientists don’t fully understand what causes benign tumors. There is no way to predict or prevent them from growing.
Many noncancerous tumors don’t cause any problems and don’t need to be treated. But you should keep an eye on any growth or change and have it checked regularly.
If you have surgery to remove a benign neoplasm, it usually will not grow back. Your healthcare provider will tell you if and when you should follow up to make sure.
You should seek medical attention for any unusual growth or symptoms that could indicate a tumor.
If you’ve been diagnosed with a benign neoplasm and it doesn’t need to be treated right away, you should be aware of any changes. Call your healthcare provider if you notice any differences in the way it looks or feels or if you have increasing pain or other symptoms.
For example, if you have a benign skin tumor, call your healthcare provider if it changes:
If you have a benign brain tumor, report any:
A note from Cleveland Clinic
A benign tumor is an abnormal but noncancerous collection of cells also called a benign neoplasm. Benign tumors can form anywhere on or in your body, but many don’t need treatment. Talk to a healthcare provider if you have any unusual growth, signs of a possible tumor or changes in symptoms.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 08/10/2021.
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