Words Are Important

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The word 'cancer' is highly charged so understanding the terminology of 'cancer' is more important than understanding some other forms of medical terminology.

  • A tumour is a lump or bump caused by multiplying cells.
  • A tumour is also called a neoplasm
  • Tumours are divided into two broad categories, benign and malignant.
  • A benign tumour does not invade surrounding tissue, does not spread to other parts of the body and usually grows slowly. A lipoma is a common benign tumour.
  • A malignant tumour has the capacity either to invade the tissue that surrounds it or to spread via the blood or lymphatic circulation to other parts of the body, for example the lungs or the liver.
  • A malignant tumour is also called a cancer
  • Malignant tumours (or cancers) are called either sarcomas, carcinomas or lymphosarcomas, depending upon what tissue they develop from. Any word ending in these three terms means malignant. For example, a hemangioma is benign. A hemangiosarcoma is malignant. An adenoma is benign, an adenocarcinoma is malignant.

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