Cysts Summary
Cysts are saclike structures that can occur throughout the body and usually contain a semisolid, liquid, or gaseous substance. Infections, tumors, genetic conditions, chronic inflammatory conditions, and wear and tear can cause cysts. Though some cysts may be palpable, others may not produce any symptoms. Treatment depends upon the location and cause of the cyst.
Medical Author:
Medical Editor:

Cyst facts

  • 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, ovaries, 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.

What is a cyst?

A cyst is a closed, saclike structure that contains fluid, gas, or semisolid material and is not a normal part of the tissue where it is located. Cysts are common and can occur anywhere in the body in people of any age. 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 and cause symptoms. The outer wall of a cyst is called the capsule.

What are the causes of a cyst?

Cysts can arise through a variety of processes in the body, including

  • "wear and tear" or simple obstructions to the flow of fluid,
  • infections,
  • tumors,
  • chronic inflammatory conditions,
  • genetic (inherited) conditions,
  • defects in developing organs in the embryo.

Most cysts arise due to the types of conditions listed above and are only preventable to the extent that the underlying cause is preventable.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/24/2013

Patient Comments

Viewers share their comments

Cysts - Symptoms and Signs Question: What symptoms and signs did you experience with your cyst(s)?
Cysts - Diagnosis Question: How was your cyst diagnosed?
Cysts - Different Types Question: If known, what type of cyst do/did you have?
Cysts - Treatment Question: What treatment was effective for your cyst(s)?