Symptoms and Signs of Cyst (Cysts)

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Medically Reviewed on 3/11/2019

Doctor's Notes on Cyst (Cysts)

Cysts are abnormal sac – like structures that usually contain gaseous, liquid, or semisolid substances and have an outer wall termed a capsule. Cysts can be found anywhere in the body and may range in size from microscopic to very large; cysts are usually named according to their location; for example, ovarian cysts, breast cysts, skin cysts – other cysts have special names such as Baker’s cyst, pilonidal cysts, ganglion cysts and many others as there are hundreds of different cyst types. Signs and symptoms of cysts generally are as follows: painless lumps or bumps just underneath skin, lumps or bumps that when touched may be hard or soft, with some small cysts producing no symptoms. The signs and symptoms of other cysts depend on the location, type and extent of the disease process the cysts may be associated with. For example, disease processes such as infections, tumors, chronic inflammatory conditions, and others, can lead to cyst development with variable signs and symptoms. Such cyst development itself can be a sign or symptom of an underlying disease process.

Causes of cysts can range from defects in embryonic development, normal wear and tear on joints and ligaments. Any organ or underlying disease process where the flow of body tissue fluid may be intermittently or permanently blocked can be the cause of cyst development.

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.