A neoplasm is an abnormal growth of cells, also known as a tumor. Neoplastic diseases are conditions that cause tumor growth — both benign and malignant.

Benign tumors are noncancerous growths. They usually grow slowly and can’t spread to other tissues. Malignant tumors are cancerous and can grow slowly or quickly. Malignant tumors carry the risk of metastasis, or spreading to multiple tissues and organs.

Exact causes of tumor growth are still being researched. In general, cancerous tumor growth is triggered by DNA mutations within your cells. Your DNA contains genes that tell cells how to operate, grow, and divide. When the DNA changes within your cells, they don’t function properly. This disconnection is what causes cells to become cancerous.

There are a number of contributing factors that can cause your genes to mutate and result in benign or malignant tumor growth. Some common factors include:

Symptoms of neoplastic disease greatly depend on where the neoplasm is located.

Regardless of type, there are some common symptoms of neoplastic disease:

In some cases, neoplastic diseases show no symptoms.

Breast

The most common symptom of breast cancer is a mass or lump. If you find a mass on your breast, don’t self-diagnose. Not all masses are cancerous.

If your breast neoplasm is cancerous, you may experience symptoms such as:

Lymph nodes

If you develop a tumor in your lymph nodes or tissues, you may notice swelling or a mass in the affected area. A cancerous neoplasm in your lymph tissues is referred to as lymphoma.

Other symptoms of lymphoma include:

Skin

Neoplasms can also affect your skin and may result in skin cancer. Some of the more common symptoms associated with this form of cancer include:

To properly diagnose neoplastic disease, your doctor will first determine if the neoplasms are benign or malignant. Your doctors will conduct a thorough examination of your medical history, blood tests, and possibly a biopsy on visible masses.

Other tests used to diagnose neoplastic diseases and cancers include:

If you notice any unusual growths, moles, or skin rashes, schedule a visit with your doctor. Don’t self-diagnose tumors.

If you’ve been diagnosed with a benign neoplasm, your doctor may want to monitor your symptoms to detect any unusual activity. If it grows, you should your doctor. Benign tumors can become cancerous over time.

If you’ve been diagnosed with a malignant neoplastic disease like cancer, you should consult with your doctor about treatment options.

Early diagnosis will give you the best treatment options for your condition.