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Updated October 20, 2009

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Definition: The term "benign" indicates that a tumor or growth does not have the characteristics of cancer or malignancy.

Generally, benign growths are not life-threatening, and do not spread or invade surrounding tissue. However, there are circumstances, such as in some brain tumors, where benign growths can greatly affect quality of life and can be life-threatening.

In some rare instances, a benign growth can progress into cancer.

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