Neoplasia: Types, Symptoms, Causes And Treatment

This alteration of the proliferation of cells, in its malignant form, is considered cancer.

Microscopic image of a neoplasm.

The concept of neoplasia may not be frequent to hear in our daily life and in fact it may seem unknown to many, but it refers to a very common reality that causes great concern in the population: we are talking about the formation of neoplasms, more known as tumors.

That is why the analysis and study of this type of alterations is of great importance, especially considering that cancer continues to be one of the main challenges in medicine today and one of the most common causes of death. In this article we are going to analyze what a neoplasm is, its most common classification and possible interventions that can be carried out to remove it.

The neoplasm

Neoplasia is understood to be the uncontrolled formation or growth of some type of tissue of the organism that occurs in an abnormal, autonomous and purposeless, uncontrolled and irreversible way. It is produced without taking into account the rest of the tissues, being independent of them.

This growth generates the presence of a mass, the neoplasm or tumor, which competes with normal tissues and cells. Although they sometimes appear due to a certain stimulation, growth continues despite this ceasing. They can appear in any organ and in practically any person, regardless of age and condition.

In the human body we can find tissues that have a specific function within an organ and others that act rather as a support in order to allow it to function. In neoplasia, they are the parenchyma, which are the set of cells with their own function, the last term those that grow and reproduce, while the stroma or set of tissues that serve as a framework for it (mainly connective tissue and blood vessels) allow that such tumor development occurs.

The existence of a neoplasm or tumor formation can be asymptomatic (especially if it is benign), but in others they usually generate physical, physiological or even behavioral changes (for example in brain tumors) that may be related to its existence. The type of symptoms will vary depending on the location and type of neoplasm that is being talked about.

However, it must be taken into account that although the presence of symptoms that may be possible indicators do not necessarily imply the existence of a neoplasm but may be due to a wide variety of conditions (not all of them necessarily clinical), which in fact in many cases are more likely.

We can find multiple types of neoplasms, depending on the type of tissue affected, the presence or absence of infiltration. However, the most common are those that take into account its degree of malignancy and / or the type of tissue that grows.

Types of neoplasms according to benignity or malignancy

Neoplasms can be cataloged and classified into different groups based on various criteria. However, the most common and well-known classification is the one that takes into account its degree of malignancy and its ability to infiltrate other areas, differentiating two large groups of neoplasms.

Benign neoplasms

Any regular, localized neoplasm that is self-limiting or encapsulating is considered benign and its behavior is non-infiltrative (that is, it does not invade the surrounding tissue). Its growth is relatively slow, being the cells that are part of the tumor similar to those of the surrounding tissues and being clearly differentiated. The presence of some type of benign tumor is quite common throughout life, with polyps, cysts, adenomas, papillomas or fibromas among many others.

In general, benign neoplasms are cell formations that do not have to cause serious alterations in the patient, unless their presence generates pinching or compression of blood vessels or relevant organs (especially when they occur in a closed space such as the brain, within the skull) or eventually become malignant.

Malignant neoplasms

Malignant neoplasms are those in which infiltrative tumors are formed, which tend to expand and invade the structures around them and are not limited. These are rapid growths that affect the surrounding tissues and invade them, not limiting themselves and producing metastasis. Cellular differentiation is lost, the limits of the tumor mass not being very delimited. As the tissue evolves, it looks less like the original structure.

We are talking about what is commonly known as cancer. If it is not treated, it ends up causing the death of the patient in periods of time that can vary greatly, frequently causing bleeding and death of tissues. It can generate recurrences, that is to say that if they are not completely eliminated they can grow again despite being removed. The degree of infiltration, as well as its rate of expansion and growth, and the extent and degree of differentiation of its cells can be highly variable. In this sense we can find various sub-classifications (which you can see in this article).

Classification according to neoplastic tissue

Another possible classification is according to the type of tissue in which the neoplasm appears. In this sense, we can find a large number of categories, being able to find both benign and malignant neoplasms in practically all types. The following groups stand out.

1. Connective tissue tumors

This type of tumor occurs in adipose tissue, cartilage, bone or fibrous tissue. For example, fibroma or osteosarcoma.

2. Tumors derived from endothelium

These are tumors or neoplasms that occur in the blood vessels, lymphatics or in the meninges. Thus, meningioma or hemangioma are examples.

3. Tumors derived from blood cells

There is an uncontrolled proliferation of blood, lymphatic or immune cells. The best known type is leukemia. In this case they are all evil

4. Epithelial cell-derived tumors

This type of neoplasia occurs either in the skin or in the epithelial tissue existing in different organs, glands and ducts. Carcinomas (including the well-known melanoma) or papillomas are frequently known by the population.

Causes

The reasons why certain cells begin to multiply uncontrollably are not exactly known. And it is that in reality there is no single cause for the appearance of a neoplasm, but they have a multifactorial origin.

Aspects such as the presence of certain disorders or diseases, diet, the incorporation of certain polluting chemical substances by the body, sedentary life, exposure to radiation or genetic predisposition are variables that have been linked to their appearance.

Experiences, stress coping styles (some predispose to cancer, such as those that repress negative emotions and are inhibited) or personality also influence .

However, it must be taken into account that none of these factors explains the appearance of cancer itself. For example, although there may be a genetic predisposition, most of them occur sporadically.

Possible treatments

There are a large number of possible treatments to apply in case of neoplasia, generally being the removal of the tumor and / or the application of chemo or radiotherapy to destroy the tumor or the remains that may remain of it.

A large portion of benign neoplasms are removed surgically, unless your risk level is low and the removal itself may cause other problems (for example, damage vision in an eye tumor). Although the detected neoplasm is benign, it will always be necessary to undergo periodic medical control in order to prevent it from becoming malignant or growing excessively causing different types of discomfort and problems.

For malignancies or cancers, the procedure is similar. Surgery is usually applied before or after, as well as chemotherapy and / or radiotherapy in order to reduce and destroy the tumor or possible tumor remains. The use of immunotherapy or hormonal therapy is not uncommon. In some cases, the ablation of parts of the body with a high risk of infiltration may be necessary, as in breast cancer with mastectomy. Unfortunately, depending on the degree of expansion and the stage in which the cancer is, the treatment may not serve to cure the patient, only slowing its progress or even offering palliative treatments.

It is also advisable, at least when we are talking about cancer or a benign neoplasm that leaves sequelae (such as one that occurs in the brain), to act on a psychological level. It must be borne in mind that the diagnosis of a neoplasm is a severe blow to the person who receives it and to their environment.

The subject can become isolated or isolated, to assume a passive attitude, suffer anxiety and depression or deny their state and not want to treat themselves, among other possibilities. In this way, the use of various types of psychological therapy can serve to facilitate the assignment to treatment, improve the physical and mental state of the patient, prevent and reduce the effects of possible depressive and anxious symptoms , favor emotional expression and activity or even desensitize the subject to its secondary symptoms (it is common for nausea and vomiting to persist after chemotherapy due to the association of food with the discomfort generated by the treatment).

Psychological treatment

In the case of cancer, the type of psychological therapy will depend on the phase of the disease and the characteristics of the patient. For example, counseling is often offered and information and coping strategies are offered. It also seeks to help improve the feeling of control over symptoms and one’s physical state with resources such as relaxation techniques, systematic desensitization, visualization therapy or adjuvant psychological therapy (it seeks that the patient has an active coping and improves his sensation control to improve your immune response).

Psychoeducation for the individual with cancer and their environment is also essential . The use of expressive therapies to reflect your feelings and fears and cognitive restructuring to fight irrational or harmful beliefs can also be great.

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