occurs when there is an atypical proliferation of cell growth. This results in an abnormal tissue mass known as a neoplasm. The neoplasm continues to exceed the growth of the normal tissues surrounding it, causing the formation of a lump or tumor. Neoplasms come in benign or non-cancerous, pre-malignant, and malignant tumors.
Benign tumors are the less dangerous types of neoplasms and tend to be localized in only one part of the body. Uterine fibroids and skin moles are examples of benign neoplasms. A pre-malignant tumor is one that has the potential to become malignant, such as a carcinoma in situ. Given enough time, a pre-malignant tumor may develop into cancer
. Malignant tumors, also known as cancer, are parasitic and spread rapidly. They are known to attack and destroy surrounding cells and tissues, eventually metastasizing and killing their host.
Neoplasms form a wide range of diseases that require different forms of treatment. They may occur at any age, and can form in any area in the body.
There are four major kinds of malignant neoplasms that eventually develop into neoplastic diseases. Lymphoma
is a neoplasm found in lymph tissues; carcinoma develops in the epithelial tissues; leukemia
is a neoplastic disease that attacks the body's blood
forming cells; and sarcoma invades connecting tissues, such as bones
When a person has a neoplasm in the lymph
tissues, known as lymphoma, the most common symptom is an enlargement of the lymph nodes
. These manifest themselves in painless lumps or mass in the areas of the neck, armpits, or in the groin. A person with lymphoma will experience rapid and unexplained weight loss
over the course of a few months, often as much as fifteen pounds. Intermittent and frequent fever
is another symptom of lymphoma, often stemming from no known infection.
Other symptoms include excessive night sweats; itching
all over the body caused by the chemicals secreted by lymphoma cells; a significant loss of appetite; weakness caused by the cancer cells consuming an increasing amount of the body's nutrients; breathlessness from the obstruction caused by the neoplasm; edema of the face and neck as the neoplasm grows larger and blocks blood vessel flow; abdominal pains, and headaches
Neoplastic disease in the form of a carcinoma will manifest symptoms that include open sores that are slow to heal. These sores continually bleed, ooze or crust over. A person with carcinoma will experience reddish patches of irritated skin in the arms, legs
, chest and shoulders that may often itch or hurt. A carcinoma growth with an indented center and an elevated border may develop, with tiny blood vessels
appearing on the surface as it slowly grows larger. Shiny bumps that are white, pink, or red appear, often take on the appearance of a mole.
Persons who have developed leukemia will frequently exhibit fever, infection, fatigue and weakness, abdominal pain, significant weight loss, constant unexplained bruising, abnormal bleeding, and enlargement of the liver
, spleen, and lymph nodes.
Sarcomas, another form of neoplastic disease, are often asymptomatic over a period of time until the neoplasm becomes exceedingly large as to start affecting the surrounding tissues, nerves
and organs. When symptoms do appear, they start as swelling
, tenderness and discomfort in the affected limb. Depending on where the sarcoma starts to grow, a patient may experience such symptoms as breathlessness and coughing if the neoplasm starts in the lungs; abdominal pain, constipation
if in the abdomen, and lower abdominal pain and bleeding from the vagina
if the growth is in the womb.
While the cause of tumors is known, there is still a lot of ground that remains unexplained. Neoplasms are caused by parasites, excessive exposure to sunlight and x-ray
radiation, unhealthy behaviors such as smoking, hormones
, certain chemicals, and a person's genetic predisposition.
Unlike the other cells in the body, neoplasms are unable to differentiate their functions from that of their fellow cells and have lost all self-regulating abilities that normal cells have. Neoplasms simply continue to grow unrestrainedly, taking up space in a person's body, and exerting pressure on tissues, vessels, and organs.
It is yet unknown what exactly transforms normal cells and causes them to turn into fast-growing neoplasms. At present, research is currently ongoing to find out what triggers these cells to turn into fatal “Frankensteins” in a person's body.
There are many methods of diagnosing the different kinds of malignant neoplasms. Lymphoma is first diagnosed by subjecting the patient to a physical exam to determine the presence of lumps, swollen lymph nodes, and an enlarged spleen or liver. The doctor will also determine a patient's medical history and general health.
The doctor will also order blood tests to check for the presence of cancerous enzymes and anemia
. Other tests include x-rays, a CT scan
scan, and a lymphangiogram, which involves injecting a dye that shows the image of a patient's lymph nodes when x-rayed. A biopsy
is a final test to ascertain whether the lump in the swollen lymph glands is indeed a lymphoma.
In carcinoma diagnoses, the doctor will determine where the neoplasm started in order to come up with the best treatment method for the patient. The patient's medical history is taken down, and the patient is subject to a thorough physical examination with emphasis on locating lumps, swollen areas, and pain. The doctor will order a series of blood tests; tumor marker tests; urine and stool analyses, and imaging tests which include x-rays to locate abnormal growths, ultrasounds, CT
and MRI scans, as well as positron emission tomography, or PET scans. The latter makes use of radioactive materials to pinpoint extremely active tissues, which indicate the presence of carcinoma. Finally, a tissue sample will be taken for biopsy in order to confirm the carcinoma diagnosis.
Patients suspected to have leukemia would undergo bone
marrow sampling to detect the presence of the disease. The doctor inserts a large needle into one of the patient's larger bones to remove a minimal amount of liquid marrow, while a larger needle removes a piece of both the bone and marrow for biopsy. The doctor may also order a spinal tap to search for leukemia cells in the spinal cord
fluid. A chest x-ray
may be undertaken to check for signs of leukocyte proliferation, one of the signs of cancer.
Sarcomas are diagnosed with an x-ray and a biopsy, as well as staging tests to check how far the cancer has spread, and how large the tumors have grown.
NEOPLASIA RISK FACTOR
There are many factors that determine the treatment method used for neoplastic diseases. A patient's age will play a great part in what type of treatment the doctor decides to use. The doctor will also take into consideration the patient's general health, the type of neoplastic disease the patient has, the extent of a patient's weight loss, and the body parts affected, among other factors.
The patient will be apprised of the treatment options available to enable the both the patient and the medical team to agree on the best treatment method to combat the neoplastic disease.
Radiotherapy is one of the treatment methods used to treat malignant neoplastic diseases. In more advanced-stage cancers, chemotherapy is the treatment option of choice. Once the neoplasm has decreased considerably after radiation therapy or chemotherapy, surgical removal of the remaining cancer cells may be undertaken. Most neoplasms require a combination of radiation, chemotherapy, and surgery to remove as many cancerous cells as possible.
While these treatment options are not a guarantee that the cancer is totally eradicated and will not recur, they are the most widely accepted treatment options that can prolong a patient's life and improve the prognosis of this fatal set of diseases considerably.