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An abnormal growth in the body is described as benign when it meets none of the three criteria that characterize a malignant cancer:

  1. It does not grow in an unlimited, aggressive manner (although it may grow over time)
  2. It does not invade surrounding tissues; and
  3. 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