Neoplasm (Tumor)

This information is useful for children, adults, and older adults
Hiker looking sun over horizon, possibly worried about neoplasm

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When reading about health topics, you might come across the word “neoplasm,” which is actually another word for tumor. A tumor is a mass made up of cells that have divided abnormally. While being diagnosed with a neoplasm or tumor sounds ominous, it’s important to know that not all are cancerous. 

“Tumors are growths in any part of our body,” says Xavier Llor, MD, PhD, a cancer geneticist and gastroenterologist who is the co-director of the Smilow Cancer Genetics & Prevention Program. “The body has a system of checks and balances in each of our organs that's in perfect equilibrium, but when that gets broken, a growth that is not controlled by our body can develop. Sometimes those growths are benign [noncancerous], but some will be malignant, or cancerous.” 

Tumors grow in solid tissues such as organs, joints, and bones. Sometimes, you may be able to feel a tumor. Other times they are only detectable with imaging tests such as an MRI, CT scan, PET scan, endoscopy, or ultrasound. In either case, a biopsy is often needed so that it can be evaluated under a microscope to determine if it is a benign, precancerous, or malignant tumor. 

Clinical Trials

New treatments for many conditions are tested in clinical trials, which ultimately bring lifesaving new drugs and devices to the patients who need them most. By participating in a clinical trial, you may get access to the most advanced treatments for your condition, and help determine their benefits for future patients.