Desmoid Tumors: Are They Benign or Malignant?

The distinction between benign and malignant tumors is classically based on the metastatic potential of a tumor type. While desmoid tumors do not metastasize and as such are classified as benign lesions, their clinical behavior, cellular biology, and molecular etiology all share more characteristics with malignancies than benign processes. Research into these aspects of desmoid tumor biology has the potential not only to develop better treatments for desmoid tumors, but also to shed light into fundamental aspects of tumor biology that will have broad ranging applications. Its classification as a benign process could have implications hampering research, advocacy, and management progress.