The human body, which is made up of living cells and extracellular materials organized into tissues, organs, and systems, is one of the most complicated mysteries in the universe. A tumor is a mass of aberrant cells that develops inside our bodies. The presence of a tumor does not always imply the presence of malignancy. Tumors can be benign or dangerous depending on their nature. Tumors can develop in any part of our body. Our bones, tissues, glands, skin, and organs all contain them. Tumors and cysts are frequently confused. A solid tissue mass has been identified as the tumor. This tumor could be malignant or non cancerous. In contrast, a cyst is defined as a tiny pouch or sac. This sac can be filled with air, solid matter, or fluid.
A tumor can be cancerous, non-cancerous, or precancerous.
Cancerous: Cancerous tumors are also known as malignant tumors. They are known to spread to adjacent tissues and organs. They can also reach glands & other body parts. These tumors are often life-threatening. They have a tendency to recur after treatment.
Non-cancerous: These are also called benign tumors. These are generally not life-threatening. Non-cancerous cells are localized. This means they cannot affect adjacent tissues. They are also unable to spread across other body parts. Most non-cancerous tumors can go without treatment. Yet sometimes these non-cancerous tumors push on other parts of our bodies. These require medical attention.
Precancerous: These are non-cancerous or benign tumors. If untreated, they can become malignant or cancerous.
How Dangerous is a Tumor?
There are several complications associated with a tumor. Benign tumors are known to grow & push organs like our brain. Endocrine tumors result in overproduced hormones. Surgery is required for removing the tumor. Benign tumors often do not require any treatment. Doctors often recommend watchful waiting so that any symptom is not ignored. Yet, treatment is needed when symptoms become a problem. Surgery is common for treating benign tumors. A tumor is removed so that surrounding tissues are not damaged. Radiation or medication are other treatment types. Cancer cells can break from their original location. These cells then travel to other parts through our bloodstream. In a fresh location, these cells multiply and metastases. Once cancer has spread across the body, treatment becomes a challenge.
Can Anybody Grow a Tumor?
The answer is dependent on a number of factors, but the actual cause of the tumor’s formation is uncertain. When body cells proliferate and multiply at a high rate, a tumor forms. Our bodies have the ability to maintain a healthy balance of cell division and growth. Damaged or old cells die, and healthy, young cells take their place. However, under certain circumstances, this cycle is disrupted, and dead cells are not replaced. A tumor develops as a result of this. Cancer cells grow in a similar way most of the time. Cancerous cells, on the other hand, can reproduce and grow. Tumors can strike persons of any age group. It has an equal impact on children. However, some circumstances increase the chances of getting malignancies.
- Gene mutation such as breast cancer (mutated BRCA) genes
- History of specific cancer types in the family such as prostate or breast cancer
- Inherited conditions like neurofibromatosis (NFS) or lynch syndrome
- Smoking as well as exposure to second-hand smoke
- Exposure to harmful toxins like asbestos or benzene
- Previous exposure to radiation
- Viruses such as HPV
Can Tumors go Undetected?
Some tumors are detected only after developing symptoms. Worse, the symptoms are often found at an advanced stage. This means the tumor has already spread across the body. Only then it is visible in the imaging tests. However, certain types of tumors can be detected early. For instance, we can diagnose skin cancer through visual inspection. A further biopsy will be required for confirming the diagnosis.
Yet, some tumors can go undiagnosed for almost a decade. This makes diagnosis or treatment even more difficult. It is therefore essential to understand the common symptoms related to various tumor types.
What are the Symptoms of a Tumor?
Different tumors have different symptoms and signs. The key here is the time of identification. If there is something different and new lasting several weeks, reach your doctor immediately. Not every sign can be a tumor. But some symptoms may warrant a quick call to the doctor.
- Pelvic pain or abdominal periods: Occasional irregular cramps or periods are common. But persistent changes in our cycle or persisting pain should not be ignored. It can be a cervical, ovarian, or uterine tumor.
- Change in bathroom habits: Changes in our bodily function should not be ignored. It can indicate prostate, bladder, or colon cancer. Warning signs can be persistent diarrhea or constipation. Other symptoms are red or black blood in the stool, tarry or black stools, blood urine, or frequent urination.
- Bloating: Bloating after eating is common. However, bloating that lasts several weeks is worrisome. It can indicate an ovarian tumor or other gastrointestinal tumors.
- Changes in the breast size, shape: Symptoms can be a new dimpling, lump, discoloring, unusual discharge, or changes across the nipple area.
- Chronic cough: If your cough is dry, persistent, and lasts for weeks, it can indicate a tumor in the lungs.
- Chronic headache: Headache lasting for several weeks and not responding to the general medicines can be worrisome. It can indicate a brain tumor.
- Difficulty swallowing: Having trouble swallowing can indicate signs of lung, stomach, or throat tumor. Persistent swallowing issues for several weeks should not be ignored.
- Excessive bruising: Contact your doctor if you are getting bruises regularly. Blood cancer can be a sign of bruising in unusual locations.
- Frequent infections or fever: Persistent infections or fever can indicate a weak immune system. It can indicate leukemia or lymphoma.
- Oral changes: Persistent lesions, sores or painful mouth can indicate an oral tumor. This is especially true for heavy smokers or drinkers.
- Changes in skin textures: Shifts in appearances should not be ignored. These can be changes in birthmark, mole, or skin color.
- Persistent pain: Consider evaluation if your pain is persistent without a clear cause. This is even true if the pain is not responding to standard medications.
- Persistent fatigue: Changes in the energy level should be monitored. If it is lasting and sudden irrespective of sleep, it can indicate leukemia.
- Stomach pain: Immediately diagnose unusual discomfort lasting several weeks. It can indicate pancreatic, liver, or digestive tumors.
- Unexplained weight loss: Weight fluctuation is common for us. But losing pounds without trying can indicate several issues. It can be a sign of cancer, especially at an advanced stage.
- Unusual lumps: Lumps are never good. If a mass or lump stays too long, then it should be checked.
When should you see a Doctor?
The above-described symptoms are good reasons to call your doctor. Similarly, ask for expert advice in case of:
- Mass or lumps across the body
- Extreme fatigue
- Night sweats
- Weight loss
Having a tumor can be extremely upsetting. Early detection and diagnosis can be a blessing in disguise. If it is benign then treatment is not needed. For cancerous treatment, several options are available. Receiving prompt consultation and treatment is the key. People are known to live several years despite having a malignant tumor. It is best to discuss the treatment options with the healthcare provider. Also, maintaining a healthy living can make a big difference. Medica Superspecialty Hospital, Kolkata has experienced surgeons who can treat all types of tumors, benign or cancerous. We have state of the art medical facilities to progressively treat all types of complications related to tumors. Medica Oncology department sought to carefully treat all types of cancerous tumors in patients from all walks of life.