Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"What causes tumors to grow?"
What makes tumors start growing and stop growing? I have a benign tumor that the doctor said is not necessary to remove unless it becomes significantly larger. So how can I keep it from growing so that I can avoid an unnecessary surgery?
Tumors can grow for many different reasons, most of which are impossible for you to control. Growth happens when the cells within the tumor divide. They divide due to complex cellular signaling which may involve hormones and growth factors depending on the tissue that produces the tumor. After they grow more than one half of a millimeter, they require blood vessels to supply nutrients for more growth. Chemotherapy medications interfere with cell division and blood vessel supply, which prevents tumor growth. Unfortunately, these medications also prevent normal cells in wounds, bone marrow, and the intestinal tract from dividing, which leads to significant toxicity. Since benign tumors usually grow slowly and do not spread or become life threatening, the risks of treatment outweigh the benefits. The best approach is to monitor the tumor and call your physician if it grows or changes in any way. If you have further questions or concerns about your health, you should schedule an appointment to discuss them with your physician. With more information about the location and type of tumor, he or she may be able to recommend hormonal or other safe treatments to prevent growth. In general, the best way to prevent cancer is to not smoke, maintain a healthy weight, and see your doctor for regular cancer screening.
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