Degenerative changes

November 29, 2023

Degenerative changesIn pathology, the term degenerative changes describes the microscopic appearance of tissue that has undergone physical breakdown so that it no longer resembles normal healthy tissue. These changes can prevent a tissue or organ from functioning normally. On their own, these changes are not cancerous. However, some tumours (including some cancers) can show these changes especially if the tumour is large or if the tumour was previously treated.

Degenerative changes include:
  • Fibrosis
  • Hyalinization
  • Hemorrhage
  • Cysts
  • Reactive cytologic atypia

What causes tissue to undergo degenerative changes?

Causes of degenerative changes include aging, toxins, chronic disease (such as diabetes, hypertension, or osteoarthritis), trauma, and ischemia (loss of blood supply to the tissue). Some types of tumours can show these changes as a result of a prior medical procedure such as a biopsy or after treatment with chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Large or fast-growing tumours can also show these changes due to insufficient or decreased blood flow.

Related articles

Reactive changes

About this article

This article was written by doctors to help you read and understand your pathology report. Contact us if you have questions about this article or your pathology report. For a complete introduction to your pathology report, read this article.

Other helpful resources

Atlas of pathology
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