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The term "benign" refers to a condition, tumor, or growth that is NOT cancerous. This means that it does not spread to other parts of the body and it does not change or destroy nearby tissue.
In general, a benign tumor grows slowly and is not harmful. However, this is not always the case.
A benign tumor may grow big enough or be found near blood vessels, the brain, nerves, or organs. As a result, it can cause problems without spreading to another part of the body.
The opposite of benign is malignant.
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.