- An abnormal mass of tissue that forms when cells grow and divide more than they should or do not die when they should. Tumors may be benign (not cancer) or malignant (cancer). Benign tumors may grow large but do not spread into, or invade, nearby tissues or other parts of the body. Malignant tumors can spread into, or invade, nearby tissues. They can also spread to other parts of the body through the blood and lymph systems. Also called neoplasm.