August 6, 2023


In pathology, the term “exophytic” refers to a growth pattern of a tumor or lesion that projects outward from the surface of the tissue. This growth pattern contrasts with endophytic growths, which extend inward into the tissue beneath the surface. Exophytic growths can be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous) and are characterized by their outward expansion from the surface of an organ or tissue.

Where are exophytic growths found?

Exophytic lesions or tumors often present as visible or palpable masses protruding from the surface of the skin, mucous membranes, or the lining of internal organs. They can be found in various parts of the body, including the skin, respiratory tract (such as the nasal cavity or lungs), gastrointestinal tract (like the colon), and genitourinary system (such as the bladder or kidneys).

Clinical significance

The significance of an exophytic growth depends on its nature (benign or malignant), size, location, and potential to cause symptoms or complications. For instance, even benign exophytic growths can cause problems if they obstruct passages or interfere with normal organ function. Malignant exophytic tumors may spread to adjacent structures or metastasize to distant sites.

Pathologists play a crucial role in diagnosing these growths through microscopic examination of tissue samples, helping to determine the nature of the growth, guiding treatment decisions, and providing prognostic information. Identifying the growth pattern (exophytic vs. endophytic) can also give insights into the tumor’s behavior and potential impact on the surrounding tissue.

About this article

Doctors wrote this article 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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