Metastatic Cancer: How Cancer Spreads

What’s the Difference Between a Cancerous Tumor and a Non-Cancerous Tumor?

A non-cancerous tumor is often referred to as a benign tumor, while a cancerous tumor is called malignant. A benign tumor is not necessarily harmless — if it grows too big, it may press on vital organs, such as the brain. But these tumors are rarely fatal, partly due to the fact that benign tumors don’t spread. A malignant tumor, on the other hand, is invasive and may spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body. Cancerous cells are deadly because of the damage they can cause to local tissue and organs. Due to this damage, the rate that a cancerous tumor grows and spreads can significantly impact the severity of the disease as well as the available treatment options. All cancers have the potential to spread to other organs in the body, but some types of cancer have a higher risk of spreading to specific areas.

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Review Date: 
November 18, 2014

Last Updated:
November 19, 2014