What is a cyst?
A cyst is a sac or pocket that develops somewhere in the body that contains air (gas), fluid, or semi-solid material. A collection of pus is called an abscess, not a cyst. A cyst can form anywhere in the body and can vary in size. Examples are a liver (hepatic) cyst and a kidney (renal) cyst.
What causes a cyst?
A cyst can be caused by numerous things such as tumors, genetic conditions, infections, a defect in developing cells, long term inflammatory conditions, blockages in the ducts that causes fluid to build up, an injury that breaks a vessel, dilatation of blood vessels, and parasites.
Kidney cysts- Most cysts in the kidney are called simple kidney cysts. A person might have one or multiple simple kidney cysts. A cluster of cysts may be called polycystic kidney disease, which is different from simple kidney cysts. Simple kidney cysts do not impair the function of the kidney.
Liver cysts-Most people only have one cyst, but can have multiple cysts. A small group of people have polycystic liver disease (cysts that look like a cluster of very large grapes in the liver). Cystic tumors are different than simple liver cysts. Cystic tumors are growths that may become cancerous over time, however most simple liver cysts are noncancerous. The most common noncancerous cystic tumor is called a cystadenoma. Liver cysts do not impair the function of the liver.
Does this mean I have cancer?
Most cysts are non-cancerous tumors.
What are symptoms of a cyst?
Many cysts don’t cause any symptoms. They are mostly found incidentally on imaging scans. Symptoms mainly develop if the cyst enlarges or starts leaking.
Kidney cysts- Symptoms with kidney cysts may include a dull ache in side or back, fever, or upper abdominal pain. A common complication of polycystic kidney disease is high blood pressure and can lead to kidney failure.
Liver cysts- Symptoms with liver cysts may include upper abdominal “fullness”, discomfort, or pain. Severe right upper abdominal pain and right shoulder pain can be caused by bleeding from the cyst.
What happens next?
A cyst may resolve by itself, but if it does not resolve then the cyst might need to be removed. The treatment for a cyst depends on various factors, including the type of cyst, location, size, symptoms. Treatment can include monitoring the cyst to see if grows or causes symptoms, lifestyle changes, medication, or surgery. Cystic tumors are often surgically removed due to the possibility of becoming cancerous.
Who do I contact with any additional questions?
You can contact your family doctor who referred you for the screening.