The question of what is a cyst is related to finding out what types of cysts there are. The basic definition of a cyst states one is a closed blister-like sac inside the body that can be filled with gases, fluid and semi-solids. However, when it is filled with puss it is called an abscess. The word "cyst," which comes from the ancient Greek word "kystis", meaning "bladder" or "pouch," can refer to any normal sac or bag in the body but it can also mean abnormal growths.
An abnormal cyst has a membrane that's distinct from the normal tissue surrounding it. This is called the cyst wall. Some cysts are benign, exhibited as plugged ducts, outlets for secretion natural in the body. But some can become cancerous tumors or formed inside cancerous tumors. Genetic conditions, infections, faulty organs, cell defects, parasites, impact injuries and chronic inflammatory conditions also can cause cysts to form.
Symptoms related to cysts vary greatly, depending on the type, size and location. Abnormal lumps that can be felt or seen can indicate skin cysts or breast cysts, the often latter being painful. Brain cysts can cause headaches. Cysts can be created by joint problems such as arthritis. A particularly gruesome type of cyst called a dermoid can contain fully mature hair, bone, skin, sweat glands, fat and thyroid tissue. Ovarian cysts can grow large enough to make a woman seen pregnant. Vocal chord cysts can cause them to crate multiple speech tones simultaneously. Many internal cysts, in the liver and kidneys for example, will exhibit no symptoms and can only be discovered through MRI, CAT scan or ultrasound.
Cyst treatment also depends on factors like location, type, size and painfulness. Large cysts that cause symptoms or are suspected of being cancerous can be surgically removed or biopsied. Cysts can also be drained of their contents by inserting a needle or catheter. Usually the contents are examined for cancerous cells. Underlying medical conditions are often the cause of cysts so treatment is related to that.