This article is about medical terminology. For other uses, see Malignancy (disambiguation).

Malignancy (from Latin male, meaning "badly", and -gnus, meaning "born") is the tendency of a medical condition to become progressively worse.

Malignancy is most familiar as a characterization of cancer. A malignant tumor contrasts with a non-cancerous benign tumor in that a malignancy is not self-limited in its growth, is capable of invading into adjacent tissues, and may be capable of spreading to distant tissues. A benign tumor has none of those properties.

Malignancy in cancers is characterized by anaplasia, invasiveness, and metastasis.[1] Malignant tumors are also characterized by genome instability, so that cancers, as assessed by whole genome sequencing, frequently have between 10,000 and 100,000 mutations in their entire genomes.[2] Cancers usually show tumour heterogeneity, containing multiple subclones.[3][4] They also frequently have reduced expression of DNA repair enzymes due to epigenetic methylation of DNA repair genes or altered microRNAs that control DNA repair gene expression.

Uses of "malignant" in oncology:

Non-oncologic disorders referred to as "malignant":

See also


  1. Wilkins, E. M. 2009. clinical practice of the dental hygienist tenth edition. lippincott williams and wilkins, a walters kluwer business. Philadelphia, PA.
  2. Tuna M, Amos CI (November 2013). "Genomic sequencing in cancer". Cancer Lett. 340 (2): 161–70. PMID 23178448. doi:10.1016/j.canlet.2012.11.004. 
  3. Swanton C (October 2012). "Intratumor heterogeneity: evolution through space and time". Cancer Res. 72 (19): 4875–82. PMC 3712191. PMID 23002210. doi:10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-12-2217. 
  4. Sabaawy HE (November 2013). "Genetic Heterogeneity and Clonal Evolution of Tumor Cells and their Impact on Precision Cancer Medicine". J Leuk (Los Angel) 1 (4): 1000124. PMC 3927925. PMID 24558642. doi:10.4172/2329-6917.1000124. 

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