Difference between Cancer and Tumor

Cancer and Tumor are the two terms that we often hear in our everyday lives in the modern world, these two terms are strong enough to easily give us goosebumps since they can make us lose someone we love and care about. Most people think that the small tumor or lump they have had on them for a long period is innocent and won’t harm their health, which is a dangerous aspect of it. Both the terms cancer and tumor sound similar to each other, but they are not. One of the main differences between the both is that tumors can be uncontrollable or dangerous and cancer usually starts with an uncontrollable tumor.

What is Cancer?

Cancer refers to one of the large numbers of diseases in which abnormal cells divide uncontrollably and can invade the nearby tissues. These cancer cells have the ability to spread throughout the body through blood and lymph systems.

It is a genetic disease that can be passed on from generation to generation due to the inherited abnormalities in the DNA responsible for cellular division. Several environmental agents like radiation, UV rays from the sun, smoke, tobacco, and other viruses can also cause cancer.

Cancer is said to be the world's second leading cause of death. But lately, survival rates are improving, thanks to the improvements in cancer treatment, prevention, and screening. The various treatment options that are currently available for cancer are chemotherapy or using a powerful chemical substance that helps to kill rapidly growing abnormal cells, surgical removal of cancerous growth in the body, use of radiation therapy that uses high energy radiation to shrink the tumor and kill the cancerous cells by destroying its DNA patterns. Lately, gene therapy has also been used to alter gene types which are proven effective compared to most traditional methods.

What is Tumor?

A tumor is a solid mass or group that forms when abnormal cells group together in the body. The tumor can affect the skin, organs, tissue, glands, and bones, and not all tumor are considered to be cancer many of them are benign which means non−cancerous. It is still important to carry out a biopsy of the affected tissue to decide whether the suspicious growth is benign.

These benign tumors are non−cancerous and localized and do not spread to different body parts. Benign tumors respond well to treatments, but if left untreated can give rise to serious complications due to their increased size.

The different types of tumors that can be seen are −

  • Cancerous − These tumors can spread into other parts of the body and the nearby tissue glands. They come back after treatment, and they are life−threatening.

  • Non−cancerous − Non−cancerous or benign tumors are not usually life−threatening, they don’t spread to the other parts of the body nor do they affect the nearby tissues.

  • Precancerous − Generally non−cancerous tumors can become cancerous if not given attention and treatment.

Differences: Cancer and Tumor

The following table highlights how Cancer is different from Tumor −

Cancer/Tumor Cancer Tumor
Definition Cancer is caused by the uncontrollable division of abnormal cells in a part of the body. Tumor is the development of a lump in a body due to abnormal cell growth.
Malignant (level of danger) Cancer is malignant. Some tumors are malignant.
Malignant (level of danger) Cancer can be treated by radiation, chemotherapy, and surgical removal. Tumors can either be treated with surgical removal or wait for them to reduce eventually.
Fatal Cancer is fatal that is spread to other parts of the body. Tumor is non−fatal that is it does not spread to the other parts of the body.
Different types
The different types of cancer are −
  • Carcinoma
  • Melanoma
  • Lymphoma
  • Leukaemia
  • Sarcoma
The different types of tumors are −
  • Cancerous
  • Non−cancerous
  • Precancerous
Some symptoms are −
Difficulty is swallowing , a mole or wart that changes in appearance, a sore that don’t go away easily, hoarseness and an unusual lump.
Some symptoms are −
Lack of appetite or unexplained weight loss, night sweats, chills or fever, pain, and fatigue.


In conclusion, both cancer and tumor are life−threatening to an individual, and each of us should take our necessary measures to prevent the risk of cancer and tumor.