Difference Between Tumour and Cancer

Tumour vs Cancer

In human body there are millions of cells. The cells are specialized to do their work. Muscle cells can contract. Nerve cell can transmit the electric impulse. Skin can cover the body. Red blood cell can carry oxygen. According to its function, they may need to produce more cells. Usually cell can be reproduced from a cell by cell division. Cell division will produce daughter cells. The cell division is highly regulated and the cell will divide when the need arises only.


Neoplasm is used in medical field to indicate tumours. Neo is new. The tumour is a cell growth, usually not needed by the tissue. However most of the tumours are harmless. They just grow and appear as tumour. The growth usually halts in a point where the tissue is not getting affected. These harmless tumours are named as benign tumours. The uterine fibroids, the lipoma (the fat cell collection in the body) are common examples. The tumours are confined to a place. They are not capable to spread out side. They may cause pressure symptoms (pressing other tissue) or may give ugly appearance (big lipoma in the skin). Uterine fibroids are benign, but it may increase the bleeding during menstruation. Otherwise these tumours are NOT DANGEROUS.


Cancer is named as CARCINOMA in medical terms. Most of the cancers are dangerous and no proper treatment is available to cure. Unlike the benign tumour, these cells are not controlled by any mechanism, they divide on their own. They use the nutrition and blood supply to the normal tissue. The cancer cells are totally different in appearance. That is they are atypical (not like their parental cells). They can invade other tissue; they can spread via blood or lymphatic. Cancers vary depending on the site they arise. However they all have common features – uncontrolled cell division, atypical cells, spreading out.

The cancer cell may spread and grow in other tissues. This is called secondary; usually liver brain and bone can be the site for secondary growth.

In early stages (before spreading to other site or breach the boundaries), cancer can be cured. Breast cancer can be cured in very early stage by removing the affected breast. Some blood cancers can be cured with treatment. Cervical cancer can be treated successfully in the early state. But if it is started to spread then the outcome is poor.

The cancer can be detected by screening. Example breast cancer screening is a simple procedure. Screening can be done by self examination of breast or by fine needle aspiration biopsy. If any lumps, then mammogram can be taken. Cervical cancer can be screened by Pap smear. If family history for cancer is present, then there is a high chance of developing cancer in other family members.

There are genes responsible for cancers are identified. BRCA is a gene responsible for breast and ovarian cancer. However the mere presence of the gene is not a reason for developing cancer. Same time absence of the cancer genes will not exclude of getting cancer.

The radiation (X rays) chemicals and carcinogen in food (MSG, fast foods) will increase the cancer risk.

In summary, tumours can be divided in to two categories. One is harmless, other one is cancerous. Fortunately, most of the tumours that appear in the body are benign. Cancers can be diagnosed through screen tests.