What exactly is a tumor?

A tumor is an abnormal growth of cells, which serves no purpose in the body. A tumor develops when cells divide too quickly and without control. Tumors can vary in size, from a tiny swelling to a large lump. Tumors can appear almost anywhere in the body.

What are the different types of tumors?

There are three types of tumors, but it is not always clear how a tumor will develop in the future. Some non-cancerous tumors can become cancerous. So, it is best to monitor any abnormal growths.

Three different types of tumors are:

Benign tumors

  • These are not cancerous.
  • They cannot spread or grow, or they do so very slowly.
  • If removed, they do not usually return.

Premalignant tumors

  • In these tumors, the cells are not yet cancerous, but they have the potential to become cancerous.
  • If removed, they may or may not return.

Malignant tumors

  • Malignant tumors are cancerous.
  • They are parasitic to the body and gradually compete with healthy cells for nutrition and blood supply.
  • The cells can grow and spread to other parts of the body.
  • These types are very dangerous as they may return after surgery.

What are the risk factors for developing a tumor?

The risk factors for developing a tumor usually depend on the location of the tumor.

Below are few common risk factors of developing tumors:

  • Genetics: Genes are the strongest risk factor for developing a tumor. Various gene mutations (TP53) are implicated in tumor formation.
  • Family history: Close family history is a common risk factor for developing a tumor.
  • Lifestyle: Smoking, consuming alcohol, consuming a high amount of red meat, being overweight, and having limited physical activity, are the most common risk factors for developing tumors.
  • Age: Most tumors are associated with aging; the ability of cells to prevent and recover from defects weakens with age.
  • Exposure to radiation is considered one of the most harmful risk factors for developing a tumor.
  • Gender: Men are at more risk of developing tumors than women because of lifestyle risk factors.
  • Reproduction and hormones: Late reproductive age, late and early menopause, hormonal therapy, and prolonged use of birth control pills, are a few risk factors for developing breast tumors in women.
  • Cosmetics: Intentional and unintentional exposure to chemicals in cosmetics like deodorants, powders and hair dyes increases the risk of developing tumors.
  • Infection: Some viral and bacterial infections increase the risk of cancer (e.g. Hepatitis B and HPV). The most studied virus family that causes cancer are papilloma viruses (the human papilloma virus, also known as HPV), implicated in cervical cancer; these viruses may also cause other cancers, such as pharyngeal cancer. The bacteria Helicobacter pylori increases the risk of gastric cancer. Severe liver infections (hepatitis B and C virus infections) are associated with an increased risk of liver cancer
  • Work related and environmental exposure: Depending on the type of occupation and location of work an individual may develop cancer.

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Can a tumor kill you?

Most benign and few premalignant tumors do not kill a person. Large, non-cancerous tumors may cause pressure on surrounding skins and can cause pain or numbness. Cancerous tumors however have a high death rate depending on the age when the diagnosis was confirmed. Highly cancerous tumors may eventually cause death. Usually, the survival rate of cancerous tumors depends on the tumor’s location. For example, brain tumors can spread (high grade) and come back despite treatment. Usually, the survival rate of the patient depends on how an individual responds to treatment.

How do you prevent a tumor from growing?

Early detection of a lump or tumor is important to determine what will be the treatment.  Visit your health professional immediately to exam what is the lump or tumor type and determine the treatment plan to prevent from the risks and complications.

Prevention tips to reduce the chances of getting a tumor:

  • Quit smoking and don’t consume alcohol.
  • Eat a healthy diet, like fruits and leafy vegetables.
  • Maintain a healthy weight and being physically active.
  • Reduce exposure to sun.
  • Getting vaccinated from infection causes virus and bacteria development, and has potential to cause cancers in the body.
  • Practicing safe sex.
  • Staying away from recreational drugs.
  • Getting regular medical check-ups.

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Medically Reviewed on 6/26/2020
References
Medscape Medical Reference
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