Does Malignant Mean Cancer?

Reviewed on 12/30/2020

What Does 'Malignant' Mean?

“Malignant” is a term used to describe active cancer cells or tumors. This is a general term, however, and may be applied to any condition that is serious enough to lead to a person's death.
“Malignant” is a term used to describe active cancer cells or tumors. This is a general term, however, and may be applied to any condition that is serious enough to lead to a person’s death.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary definition of malignant is, “tending to produce death or deterioration; tending to infiltrate, metastasize, and terminate fatally.”

In medicine, the term malignant usually refers to a medical condition that is considered dangerous or likely to cause death if untreated. Many diseases can be considered malignant when they are fatal if untreated. 

Malignant is the opposite of benign, which is any condition or cancer that is treatable and generally not considered life-threatening. 

What Is Malignant Cancer?

The term malignant is often associated with cancer because many cancers can be life-threatening if left untreated. 

Characteristics of malignant tumors include:

  • Uncontrolled growth
    • Malignant tumors have a higher rate of cell growth than the normal tissues from which the cells came
  • Different appearance from the cells from which it came
  • Loss of ability to perform the functions of the tissues from which it came
    • The cells either function differently, incompletely, or not at all
  • Invades and damages healthy cells
  • Metastasizes (spreads) to other organs of the body
    • Malignant tumors invade and destroy areas far from the original site

What is the Treatment for Malignant Cancer?

Treatment for malignant tumors varies and depends on a number of factors, such as: 

  • Tumor size
  • Location
  • Stage and grade
  • The patient’s overall health

Treatments for malignant tumors may include one or more of the following: 

The prognosis for malignant cancer varies and most types are considered fatal. Treatment may help prolong a patient’s life but generally will not cure the cancer.

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Reviewed on 12/30/2020
References
https://www.cancer.org/cancer/glossary.html#alpha-m

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/malignant

https://www.medicalfightagainst-cancer.info/2020/05/what-does-malignant-cancer-mean-is-malignant-tumor-dangerous.html

https://www.knowcancer.com/tumor/malignant-tumor/