Malignancy (from Latin male "badly" + -gnus "born") is the tendency of a medical condition, especially tumors, to become progressively worse and to potentially result in death. Malignancy in cancers is characterized by anaplasia, invasiveness, and metastasis.
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.
Uses of "malignant" in oncology:
- Malignancy, malignant neoplasm, and malignant tumor are synonymous with cancer
- Malignant ascites
- Malignant transformation
Non-oncologic disorders referred to as "malignant":
- Malignant hypertension
- Malignant hyperthermia
- Malignant otitis externa
- Malignant tertian malaria (Malaria caused specifically by Plasmodium falciparum)
- Neuroleptic malignant syndrome
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