Cyst Symptoms and Causes
A cyst is a closed sac- or bladder-like structure that is not a normal part of the tissue where it is found. Cysts are common and can occur anywhere in the body in people of any age. Sometimes they may be felt as an abnormal or new lump or bump anywhere in the body. Cysts usually contain a gaseous, liquid, or semisolid substance. Since cysts vary in size, they may be detectable only under a microscope or they can grow so large that they displace normal organs and tissues. The outer wall of a cyst is called the capsule.
Cysts can arise through a variety of processes in the body, including
Sometimes you can feel a cyst yourself when you feel an abnormal "lump." For example, cysts of the skin or tissues beneath the skin are usually noticeable. Cysts in the mammary glands (breasts) also may be palpable (meaning that you can feel them when you examine the area with your fingers). Cysts of internal organs such as the kidneys or liver may not produce any symptoms or may not be detected by the affected individual. These cysts often are first discovered by imaging studies (X-ray, ultrasound, computerized tomography or CT scan, and magnetic resonance imaging or MRI).
There are hundreds of types of cysts that can arise in the body. Some of the more well-known types of cysts are
The majority of cysts are benign, but some may produce symptoms due to their size and/or location. Rarely, cysts can be associated with malignant tumors (cancers) or serious infections. If you're concerned about any abnormal swelling or "lump," talk to your doctor. He or she can recommend appropriate diagnostic tests to determine the cause of the cyst.
Last Editorial Review: 7/2/2008