An abnormal growth in the body is described as benign when it meets none of the three criteria that characterize a malignant cancer:
- It does not grow in an unlimited, aggressive manner (although it may grow over time)
- It does not invade surrounding tissues; and
- It does not mestastisize.
A common mole is a good example of a benign growth.
A benign tumor may still have negative health effects. Most often, a large benign tumor will press on blood vessels or other ducts and interfere with their operation. More rarely, a benign tumor may grow on one of the endocrine glands and result in the overproduction of hormones.
See also adenoma