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Difference Between Anaplasia and Neoplasia

Lifestyle, age, exposure to radiation and genetics can play a large role in cell abnormalities within the body. Two conditions relating to cell abnormalities have been correlated with these risk factors and have the potential to lead to malignancies or benign masses. These conditions are anaplasia and neoplasia. Anaplasia refers to a condition where cells lose their specialized characteristics and divide into cells of a more general or distorted state. Neoplasia refers to the rapid growth of cells in an uncontrolled manner and a state which is uncoordinated by the body or a state where normal cell death does not take place as it should. Both cell conditions can lead to various types of carcinomas, depending on the resultant effect of the abnormal cell production or growth.


Anaplasia is commonly defined as a condition where cells occur that have lost the characteristics that make them specialized. In other words, it is when cells lose the ability to divide to become a certain type of tissue. In anaplasia, cells revert back to a more general state and can be distorted, no longer functioning like the cells they are surrounded by. This is often seen in cancerous cells and when the cells undergo cell division, they divide into cells that also depict anaplasia. After rapid growth in this form, a malignant tumour is usually formed. The condition of anaplasia usually results in a malignant tumour. These tumours are classified as various types of carcinomas (or cancers) and are often as follows:

Neoplasia is defined as the new and uncontrolled and uncoordinated growth of cells that is not under any form of control by the body, or the state where cells do not die as they are supposed to. This uncontrolled and uncoordinated growth results in masses of tissue forming within the body. These masses can either be benign or malignant. When benign, the growths (also known as neoplasms) can grow to a large size, but they do not spread or invade surrounding tissues or other areas of the body. This condition comes with symptoms such as anaemic blood results, shortness of breath, fever and chills, a decreased appetite, pain in the abdominal region, lasting fatigue or a tiredness that does not seem to resolve. The growths that result from neoplasia are often as follows:

Potential causes

The potential underlying causes of anaplasia are genetic factors, exposure to radiation, lifestyle conditions such as excess body fat, and age range (older than 65 years).

Neoplasia has similar potential underlying causes, with some difference present. These are genetic factors, age range, hormonal conditions, overexposure to the sun, disorders of the immune system, overexposure to radiation, exposure to chemical toxins, viruses, and lifestyle factors such as obesity and smoking.


The most common diagnostic tool for anaplasia is molecular and gene analysis which provides a clearer picture on the type of abnormality at hand.

There are numerous diagnostic tools used to properly diagnose neoplastic related diseases. These include scans (CT, MRI, PET), mammograms, X-ray investigations, sonars and endoscopy.

Table of comparison between anaplasia and neoplasia


Anaplasia and neoplasia are both conditions where there is a change in the state of cells. 

Where anaplasia refers to cells losing their ability to function as they should, neoplasia refers to new cell growth in an uncontrolled and uncoordinated manner. Both conditions are often the results of a strong genetic factor and can lead to malignancies or be of a benign nature. Exposure to radiation, age factors and lifestyle is also a leading causative estimate, but absolute certainty of causes remains unexplained. Treatment of benign or malignant cell masses is entirely dependent on the nature of the abnormal cell growth and the complications associated with the abnormality. 


Are anaplasia and neoplasia the same?

Anaplasia and neoplasia are not the same condition. Anaplasia refers to cells (usually of cancerous state) that have lost all the unique characteristics that allow them to be normal functioning cells and continue to divide in this reverted state. This results in cells of an unpredictable nature. Neoplasia on the other hand, is new cell growth coupled with mutations that result in cells growing continuously and uncontrollably and/or cells not dying when they usually would.

What is an example of anaplasia?

An example of anaplasia can be seen in Wims tumours. More specifically, Wims tumours displaying approximately 5-10% of anaplastic histology presence. The anaplasia present in Wims tumours is a key defining factor for prognosis. The anaplasia presence is seen to be a marker of resistance of the cells to therapy treatments but is not seen to be an indicator of aggressiveness.

What is the difference between anaplasia and neoplasia?

Anaplasia refers to cells which present a lack of differentiation within neoplastic cells. Neoplasia refers to cells that have developed a mutation resulting in the cells disobedience, uncontrollability and incoordination in relation to adjacent cells, thus leading to the formation of either malignant or benign cancer cells.

What is a neoplasm?

A neoplasm is seen as an abnormal mass of tissue that has formed (commonly referred to as a tumour) and occurs when cells either divide and grow increasingly or when cells do not die off as they are expected to. The term neoplasm means “new growth” and these growths can either be malignant in nature or benign. This new growth occurs in a manner which the body cannot control or coordinate and occurs at a rapid pace.

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References :

[0]Coleman, William and Rubinas, Tara. “Chapter 4 – Neoplasia”. Molecular Pathology. Academic Press, 2009, pp: 63-86

[1]Haschek, Wanda., Rousseaux, Colin., and Wallig, Matthew. “Chapter 2 - Manifestations of Toxic Cell Injury: Cell Injury/Death and Chemical Carcinogenesis”. Fundamentals of Toxicologic Pathology (Second Edition), Academic Press. 2010, pp: 9-42.

[2]Wong, Eric. Introduction to Neoplasia. McMaster Pathophysiology Review. http://www.pathophys.org/introneoplasia/

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