October 2, 2023
Benign can sometimes mean normal but not always. Pathologists often use this term to say that something is not cancer. However, many non-cancerous things are still not normal. For example, a non-cancerous tumour is benign but it is still an abnormal growth of cells. Importantly, in some areas of the body such as the brain, even non-cancerous tumours can cause significant harm as they grow and damage surrounding tissue.
A benign tumour is a large group of non-cancerous cells that are growing faster than the normal cells around them. Because they are growing faster than normal cells, the tumour cells form a mass that stands out from the surrounding tissue.
Benign tumours can still cause damage by compressing nearby structures, such as other organs, nerves, or blood vessels. However, the cells cannot typically spread to other parts of the body. The movement of tumour cells to another part of the body is called metastasis and this is usually only seen with malignant (cancerous) tumours.
When examining a tumour under a microscope, pathologists will look for the following features to determine if the tumour is benign (non-cancerous) or malignant. (cancerous):
Doctors wrote this article to help you read and understand your pathology report. Contact us with any questions about this article or your pathology report. Read this article for a more general introduction to the parts of a typical pathology report.