What does benign mean?

In medicine, benign describes something that is unlikely to be harmful. In most cases, it is a term used in oncology to denote a tumor, condition, or growth that is not cancerous, or nonmalignant. By this, benign means the condition does not spread to other parts of the body or invade nearby tissues.

Why is it important to identify benign tumors?

Identifying if a tumor is benign, often through a biopsy, plays a significant role in healthcare. A benign diagnosis helps doctors determine that oncology-based treatments are unnecessary because the growth or tumor is not cancerous.

However, just because something is benign does not mean it is not a problem. Benign tumors may still grow, although much slower than malignant tumors. If they grow to be too big, especially when near the brain, blood vessels, nerves, or other organs, it may cause local problems.

Additionally, healthcare providers still monitor benign masses regularly because there is a chance of them becoming cancerous over time.