• Question: What is the difference between a cancer and a tumor?

    Asked by setbuddiesx to Iain, Jo, Leo, Mariam on 24 Jun 2010 in Categories: .
    • Photo: Iain Moal

      Iain Moal answered on 23 Jun 2010:

      Good question. Tumours can be benign or malignant. Benign tumours aren’t cancer and won’t spread to other parts of the body, and generally don’t do much harm unless they become big enough to interfere with some important function. Malignant tumours, on the other hand, are cancerous and very dangerous. Sometimes a benign tumour can turn into a malignant one, but this is quite rare.

      Now, not all cancers require tumours. For example, leukaemia is caused my uncontrolled growth of cells in the blood, and these cells don’t aggregate together as a tumour.

    • Photo: Mariam Orme

      Mariam Orme answered on 23 Jun 2010:

      Cancer is the term we use in general for any disease in which cells are growing and dividing uncontrollably and invading normal tissues of the body.

      A tumour is a lump of abnormal cells. It can be cancerous (“malignant”), if it’s growing rapidly and invading other tissues, and perhaps even spreading to other parts of the body. Or it can be non-cancerous (“benign”) if it just sits there.

      I hope that helps clarify things!

    • Photo: Joanna Watson

      Joanna Watson answered on 24 Jun 2010:

      Often they are the same thing, but some cancers, like cancers of blood cells don’t form tumoura and lots of tumours are not cancer.

      The tumours that aren’t cancer are benign tumours because they won’t keep growing and won’t spread around the rest of the body even if you don’t treat then.

    • Photo: Leo Garcia

      Leo Garcia answered on 24 Jun 2010:

      A tumour is the name we give to a collection of cells which have divided rapidly and accumulated together. We only describe that tumour as cancerous if those cells have particular properties:

      – That they invade into surrounding tissue and spread throughout the body (metastasis)
      – They continue to grow uncontrollably

      Benign tumours do not grow forever, nor do they spread to other parts of the body.