Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
In this Article
- What is a cyst?
- What are the causes of a cyst?
- What are the different types of cysts?
- What are cyst symptoms and signs, and how are cysts diagnosed?
- What is the treatment for a cyst?
- Is prevention of cysts possible?
- What is the prognosis of cysts?
- Cysts At A Glance
What is the treatment for a cyst?
The treatment for a cyst depends upon the cause of the cyst along with its location. Cysts that are very large and result in symptoms due to their size may be surgically removed. Sometimes the fluid contained within a cyst can be drained, or aspirated, by inserting a needle or catheter into the cyst cavity, resulting in collapse of the cyst. Radiologic imaging may be used for guidance in draining (aspirating) cyst contents if the cyst is not easily accessible. Drainage or removal of a cyst at home is not advised.
Surgical removal of a cyst is sometimes necessary. If there is any suspicion that a cyst is cancerous, the cyst is generally removed by surgery or a biopsy is taken of the cyst wall (capsule) to rule out malignancy. In certain cases, aspirated fluid from a cyst is examined under a microscope to determine if cancer cells are present in the cyst.
If a cyst arises as part of a chronic medical condition (for example, in polycystic ovary syndrome or fibrocystic breast disease), treatment is generally directed at the underlying medical condition.
Is prevention of cysts possible?
Prevention of cyst formation is only possible to the extent to which prevention of the underlying cause of the cyst is possible. Most kinds of cysts are not preventable.
What is the prognosis of cysts?
The majority of cysts are benign conditions and do not result in long-term or serious complications. However, cysts that are associated with malignancy or serious infections can have a poor prognosis.
- Cysts are common, closed saclike structures that contains fluid, gas, or semisolid material.
- There are hundreds of different types of cysts.
- Cysts can be located in all areas of the body.
- Superficial cysts may be felt as an abnormal "lump" on the skin. Cysts of internal organs, such as the liver, kidneys, or pancreas, may not be noticed and may or may not produce symptoms. Cysts of internal organs may not be noticed and may or may not produce symptoms.
- A number of different processes can result in cyst formation, including blockage of the flow of fluids, infection, trauma, tumors, congenital defects, and chronic inflammatory conditions.
- The majority of cysts are benign, but certain cases can be associated with malignant tumors.
Additional resources from WebMD Boots UK on Cysts, Lumps and Bumps
Hanson, Linda J., and Nathalie C. Zeitouni. "Epidermal Inclusion Cysts." eMedicine.com. May 6, 2010. <http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1061582-overview>.
Kumar, Vinay, Abul K. Abbas, Nelson Fausto, and Jon Aster. Robbins & Cotran Pathologic Basis of Disease. 8th ed. Philadelphia: Saunders, 2009.
Last Editorial Review: 2/17/2011
Viewers share their comments
- Submit »
Find out what women really need.