What Is a Cystic Neoplasm?

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  • Written By: T. Carrier
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 12 October 2019
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A cystic neoplasm is an abnormal growth on or inside the body caused by unusually rapid cell production. These tissue masses can occur in many of the body’s organs or they might be found just underneath the skin. If the cyst forms a visible lump, it is known as a tumor. Further, cystic neoplasms can develop into cancer or can be non-cancerous, with imaging tests determining a specific prognosis. Treatments for cystic neoplasms often include cyst removal.

The term "cystic neoplasm" derives from the term "neoplasia," which refers to an overproduction of new cells in some area of the body. When this overproduction produces a sac-like, closed-off object that is distinctly separate from the affected tissue, cysts result. The inside of a cyst might be solid or filled with fluids or air. If the cystic neoplasm begins to infiltrate and damage body tissue, then the object is likely a cancerous malignancy.

Specific causes for a cystic neoplasm are largely unknown, although genetic factors might largely influence some conditions. The accelerated cellular growth is often clonal in nature, which means that a single abnormal cell produces several genetically identical copies of itself. The resulting small colony of cloned cells then feeds and stimulates growth of the neoplasm.


Most of the inner organs can develop cystic neoplasms. For example, cysts that produce a substance known as mucin can arise in the pancreas or surrounding organs. Several subdivisions of particular cystic neoplasms also exist, differentiated by their structure, locations and malignancy potential. Examples of subdivisions include cystademona and papillary tumors. In contrast with organ cystic neoplasms, varieties that occur near the skin are known as cystic sebaceous neoplasms.

Symptoms for cystic neoplasms might be general or specific, depending on location. Ovarian cysts, for example, might induce bleeding or hinder a woman’s menstrual cycle. Perhaps the most common general symptom is pain, particularly if the growth is pressing against an organ or nerve area. In many cases, however, the growths produce no noticeable side effects.

Imaging and scanning medical machines offer one of the best means of detecting a cystic neoplasm, particularly if the growth does not produce a noticeable lump or any apparent symptoms. Computed tomography and endoscopic ultrasonography are two common detection techniques. Both of these methods involve producing digital images of the body’s interior.

Treatment protocols will vary depending on the specific case of cystic neoplasm. If the growth is not intrusive or harmful, it can be left alone. Painful or malignant neoplasms usually will require removal, however. This step is often accomplished via surgical techniques.


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