We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

What is a Benign Neoplasm?

By Toni Henthorn
Updated: May 17, 2024

A benign neoplasm is an abnormal growth or tumor consisting of cells that divide and reproduce independently of the surrounding normal tissue. Cells of a benign neoplasm do not possess the typical characteristics of malignancy. Although the cells in any neoplasm, benign or malignant, tend to proliferate more quickly and last for a longer time than the corresponding normal cells, the benign, neoplastic cells proliferate at a slower rate than malignant cells. These neoplasms do not infiltrate and invade the surrounding tissue, although they do expand locally. They do not proliferate in an unrestrained, destructive manner, and they do not spread through the blood stream to distant sites within the body.

The cellular characteristics of a benign neoplasm closely resemble those of the normal cells, not displaying the defective cellular maturation of malignant cells. Any body cell type can produce a neoplasm. A fibrous capsule, providing clear demarcation between the tumor and the normal tissue, usually surrounds this type of neoplasm. For this reason, benign tumors can be removed entirely. A benign neoplasm, if totally removed, will not grow back.

A benign neoplasm is typically named after its predominant cell type, followed by the suffix, "-oma". For example, a benign tumor of glial cells, which are support cells in the nervous system, is a glioma. In general, the "–oma" suffix implies the benign, nonprogressive nature of a neoplasm, although this may not always be the case. For example, cancer of the pigmented skin cells, called melanoma, is malignant.

Although many neoplasms are perfectly harmless, the term “benign” may be misleading. These neoplasms, though lacking invasive potential, can cause significant, detrimental effects. Approximately 13,000 deaths occur per year in the United States secondary to benign tumors. Neoplasms of cells that typically produce a hormone or secretion in the body may overproduce these chemicals, which can cause a variety of health problems. In addition, the accelerated growth of a benign tumor may compress surrounding tissues, damaging or displacing them.

Some neoplasms originally diagnosed as benign degenerate into cancers, possibly due to additional mutations of the genetic material. For example, certain spots or moles of the skin can become cancerous over time. Many of these premalignant areas progressively show abnormal development over time, a condition called dysplasia. Most physicians recommend excision of dysplastic lesions before they reach the malignant stage.

The symptoms of a benign tumor depend on its size, location, and properties. In addition to pain, pressure, and hormonal imbalances, symptoms may include abnormal bleeding, blockage of blood flow, itching, and cosmetic alterations. Colon polyps may impede the normal movement of waste materials through the colon, producing abdominal pain and swelling. Expanding tumors may erode or weaken bone, leading to fractures from seemingly minor trauma. Asymptomatic neoplasms do not require treatment, but surgical excision of the entire neoplasm is the treatment of choice when the patient experiences symptoms.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.