Table 231 Different characteristics of benign and malignant tumours

Benign

Well differentiated Non-invasive Slow growth Not anaplastic Not metastatic

Malignant

Undifferentiated Invasive Rapid growth Anaplastic Metastatic

Malignant disease accounts for 1 in 8 deaths of people under 35 years in Australia and 1 in every 4 (25%) of deaths in those over 45 years. 1 Cancer is the only major cause of death in Australia that is increasing in both sexes. At current rates about 1 in 3 males and 1 in 4 females will develop a cancer, excluding non-melanoma skin cancers, by the age of 75. 1

The six most common causes of death from cancer in Australia are cancer of the lung, bowel, breast, prostate, lymphoma and pancreas.

Neoplasia, especially malignancy of the silent areas, can present as undifferentiated illness and be a real masquerade. The so-called 'silent' malignancies that pose a special problem include carcinoma of the ovary, kidney, caecum and ascending colon, liver (hepatoma), melanoma and haematological tissue.

This chapter will focus on the general features of these malignancies.

Acute emergency problems that can develop with various malignancies include spinal cord compression, malignant effusions, disseminated intravascular coagulation and hypercalcaemia.

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