What is a cyst

A cyst is a closed sac-like appearance that is not a usual part of the tissue where it is found. Cysts can appear anywhere in the body and can be found in people of all age groups. They usually envelop a gaseous, liquid, or semisolid substance. Cysts largely vary in size; when some of them are microscopic certain others are large enough to displace the entire organ. The exterior wall of the cyst is called

On the basis of their location, cysts get classified as ovarian cysts (those found in the ovaries), baker cysts (popliteal) behind the knee, sebaceous cysts found in the tiny skin glands etc. Cysts can be resulted by various factors. Mere blockage to the flow of body fluids, infections, tumours, chronic inflammatory conditions, and defects in developing organs in the embryo etc are some of them. Genetic irregularities can also cause cysts.

In most cases, the affected person initially notices cysts in the form an abnormal lump. Cysts formed beneath the skin layer and in the breast tissues are generally palpable (which means you can feel them when the area is examined with fingers). But cysts formed within internal organs such as kidneys, liver etc often get unnoticed as no obvious symptoms get manifested externally. Imaging studies such as X-rays, ultrasound scanning, magnetic resonance imaging etc reveals such internal cysts. The symptoms produced by cysts depend largely on its size and place of appearance. Similarly, treatment is also based on the cause and location of the cyst. Larger cysts are generally removed surgically. In certain cases, the fluid within the cysts gets drained away with the help of a needle that is inserted into the cyst cavity. As a result of this needle insertion, the cyst gets collapsed.

Autopsy is suggested, if the cyst is suspected to be cancerous. The microscopic examination of the aspirated fluid also is helpful in determining the existence of cancer cells.

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