When you notice an abnormal growth in your body, it can be frightening. Unregulated cell growth produces a mass called a tumor, which can press on other areas of your body. There are two types of tumors: benign and malignant.
Our bodies naturally produce new cells. In fact, during the course of a year, we replace almost every single cell in our bodies. The frequency of this turnover depends on the location. For example, stomach cells divide rapidly because of the wear and tear they receive from stomach acid. However, normally cells die off as new ones replace them in order to keep our body at a normal size. Sometimes, though, this growth can become unregulated and lead to a mass of cells.
Proteins in the body tell cells when they should grow, double their chromosomes, and divide into to distinct cells. In somatic cells, or the cells of the body besides egg and sperm, this process is called mitosis. Because each cycle of mitosis leads to one cell becoming two, this growth can quickly accumulate if unrestricted.
Cells lose the ability to regulate growth if their genetic information is mutated, or changed, due to exposure to carcinogens like radiation or asbestos. This mutation can lead to two different types of tumors, benign and malignant. The form of the tumor depends on the type of growth that it undergoes.
Benign tumors cause an estimated 13,000 deaths each year in the United States, even though they are not cancerous. Benign tumors are basically areas of extreme cell growth, although this can happen at a slow rate. The group of cells proliferates, but does not metastasize to other parts of the body. They are usually not harmful. Doctors may decide to wait on a benign tumor to see if it will continue growing, or they may remove the growth. Often, the tumor does not return. However, benign tumors can hurt someone when they press against organs, blood vessels, and nerves in the area.
Malignant tumors are the type associated with cancer. Cancerous tumors have the ability to metastasize. This means that they can break off into pieces and spread throughout the body. Once they adhere to a spot inside the body, malignant tumors have the ability to harm the body not only by pressing on nearby tissues, but also invading them and interfering with their normal tasks. Additionally, they can contribute to infection in healthy tissue as well as secrete substances that kill off the normal tissue.
Some malignant tumors can be caused by exposure to asbestos. Asbestos that is ingested or inhaled can lead to two types of malignant tumors, mesothelioma and lung cancer. Mesothelioma has the ability to spread throughout the body by attacking the serous linings of the body.
If you or someone that you know has developed malignant mesothelioma due to illegal exposure to asbestos, you should speak to a lawyer about your rights. For more information, talk to a mesothelioma attorney at the firm of Williams Kherkher today.