What is a Cyst? This article is designed to help you understand more about yourself, others, and the medical world around you. Many view the word “Cyst” as being unclean, or infectious, or disease bearing. The truth about Cycts is actually quite far from those.
What are Cysts?
Cysts are one of the most common benign tumors of the skin. They present as a round, rubbery, mobile mass that stretches out the overlaying skin and is tethered to the surface of the skin by a pore or “punctum”, this “punctum“ acts like a tether that allows the Cyst to “float“ more often than not in the surrounding bodily fluids.
Cysts can be found “anywhere on or in the body, and anyone can have them.
The term “Cyst” refers to a fluid-filled structure of cells, whereas a tumor consist of a mass of abnormal cells with abnormal growth potential. Cysts are not associated with tumors typically as they have a very thin rim surrounding the fluid and may be popped, whereas a tumor would have a thickened rim that surrounds it that expands with time.
Types of Cysts – arachnoid, colloid, dermoid, epidermis, pineal, cervical, breast, ganglion, etc…
What causes a Cyst?
Cysts frequently result from a plugging of the pore. A sac of skin forms and gets larger as it becomes filled with keratin, a component of your skin cells, CSF “Cerebral Spinal Fluid“, colloid, or blood. Keratin is a pasty, whitish material that sometimes can be expressed from the cyst and tends to have a foul odor.
Is a Cyst Harmful?
Often No, however there are circumstances where they could cause damage, lack of blood flow, or harmful pressure to build up on the surrounding tissue and organs. Normally cysts are “benign” and do not develop into cancers. Once in a while, they may rupture and become inflamed which results in redness, swelling and pain in the area. Sometimes pus will drain. To avoid inflammation or infection of a cysts, it is best “not” to squeeze it.
Does a Cyst need to be removed?
The majority of cysts cause no problems and therefore do not need to be removed, it is the location of the cyst and the level of discomfort that will dictate your desire to have them removed. On occasion, a cyst may become objectionably large, interfere with function, get inflamed or are symptomatic. In these cases, removal is achieved by local surgical excision. Small, asymptomatic cysts may be removed electively by contracting your physician to arrange an elective removal. “Always consult your physician before making body modifications.”
Very often, cysts do not produce any symptoms and do not enlarge over time. If a cyst is not causing symptoms and is not thought to be associated with a tumor, you might never develop a problem with the cyst. An operation to remove the cyst might carry a greater risk than living with the cyst. Your doctor can help you weight the risks of “watching and waiting” with the risks of undergoing surgery.
How can a doctor tell if the cyst is not cancerous? A CT “Cat Scan” or particularly, an MRI scan of a cyst generally shows no solid or nodular components that could suggest an associated “malignant tumor”. Sometimes, when a cyst appears benign but the doctor cannot be 100% certain, repeated radiological studies over time will be recommended. A malignant tumor would be expected to grow over time, whereas a benign cyst might not.
Is radiation therapy ever used to treat a Cyst? In general, radiation is used to kill dividing cells “cancerous growth”. The fluid inside a cyst does not contain dividing cells, and the cells forming the walls of most cysts “including arachnoid, colloid, dermoid, epidermis, and pineal cysts” are not dividing. If the cyst is suspected of being malignant or tumor related a pointed dose of radiation may be injected “into” the cyst to destroy the cells within, however this is rare and your physician would know more.
Will I develop more Cysts?
You may develop more cysts over time and there is no way to prevent this from happening. You may also only ever have one cyst in your lifetime. Cysts have many factors which allow the cells to grow in such a manor, environment, radiation exposure, mould, bacteria, viruses, the reason why a cyst would appear is quite vast and unfortunately not always apparent.
In general, if the wall of the cyst is completely removed, the chance of the cyst recurrence I quite low. If the cyst is drained but the “bubble” or sack that contained the fluid is left intact, the odds of fluid re-accumulating are much higher as the cell walls may “heal” and reseal fluid within.
Do I have a disease if I have a Cyst?
- Answer – “No”
A cyst is a random event that does have some factors too their appearance. Typically a Cyst does not have an associated disease or cause, they are a random occurrence that anyone could have.
We never know what can happen, its always good to be prepared and have the knowledge we need to help those who need it.
“This material is for information purposes only and is taken from The Canadian Red Cross / Alberta Heart & Stroke Foundation & Alberta Health Services. This information should not be used in place of medical, Technical advice, instructor, and/or treatment. If you have questions, speak to your local Physician or Safety Training Facility.”
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