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Difference Between Fibroids and Cysts

Fibroids and cyst are abnormal over growths of certain tissues. Fibroids are mostly found in the uterus, whereas cysts can occur anywhere in the body. Both fibroids and cysts are benign and not life threatening. Most of the time they lie undetected, and discovered only during regular full body check -up or scan.

What are Fibroids?

Fibroids are cellular growth found in the uterus or the womb. They are non-cancerous in nature. They occur in women belonging to the reproductive age group. Their occurrence is less in females above 30 years of age and in postmenopausal women. There is usually a family history of this condition. Medically they are called as Leiyomyomas, myomas or fibromyomas.

Fibroids can be single or multiple in number. Their size may vary from as small as a pea to big enough to occupy the entire uterus. Fibroids can be located anywhere in the uterus. Fibroids occurring within the muscular lining of the uterus are known as intramural fibroids and are the most common variety found. Sub serous fibroids are located on the outer wall of the womb and at times extend into the pelvis. Sub mucus fibroids grow from the inner wall and penetrate the middle layer of the uterine muscular lining. Pedunculated fibroids are attached to the outer uterine wall through a thin narrow stalk.

The cause of fibroids is not yet understood completely, but there seems to be a connection between the level of female hormones and size of fibroids. High level oestrogen and progesterone tend to increase the growth of fibroids, which is why their size increases in pregnancy, when the level of hormones is the highest. Obesity is another possible cause of fibroids as it is also linked with increased oestrogen levels. When menopause sets in, most of these fibroids shrink or disappear due to fall in the levels of female hormones. Those who eat less vegetables and fruits and more red meat are at higher risk of developing fibroids.

In most cases women having fibroids are unaware of their presence. They come up in routine pelvic scans. Once detected their growth needs to be monitored with regular follow up scans. In some cases women having fibroids present with unusually heavy menstrual flow, severe pelvic pain, pain during intercourse and repeated miscarriages. Fibroids generally do not affect pregnancy, but if they are located near the vagina or are large, they can lead to breech presentation, early onset of labour and caesarean section.

Treatment of fibroids is entirely based on the symptoms presented. In milder cases, painkillers are given to relieve pain. Medications to reduce menstrual flow are prescribed. In very severe cases surgical options hysterectomy (removal of uterus), myomectomy (removal of fibroids), endometrial ablation (using LASER), MRI guided focussed ultrasound or LASER to burn the fibroid and uterine artery embolization (cutting the blood supply to the fibroid) are considered.

What are cysts?

Cysts on the other hand are abnormal fluid filled sacs attached to the nearby organ. But they have a definite and distinct membranous demarcation. They can affect virtually any organ of the body like skin, liver, kidney, breast, ovaries, brain etc. They can be microscopically small or as big as a tennis ball.

The cause of cysts is yet to be identified but genetic factors, faulty organ development, blockage in ducts which affect fluid outflow or medical conditions such as polycystic ovarian syndrome may play a role in their development.

The symptoms of cysts may vary according to their location. Liver and kidney cysts are asymptomatic and picked up only on regular scans. Breast cysts can be painful. Cyst in the brain causes headache and skin cysts appear as lumps and bumps.

Ovarian cysts are fluid filled sacs within the ovary. It can cause pelvic pain, painful bowel movement, urinary urgency, bloating of abdomen, changes in menstrual flow. They can also make conception difficult as they may block the path of eggs from the ovary to the uterus. They are of two types functional or pathological. Neither variety is cancerous.

Surgical removal of the cyst or aspiration (drainage) of the fluid is the only way to treat cysts.


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References :


[0]http://www.bupa.co.uk/health-information/directory/f/fibroids

[1]http://www.webmd.com/women/uterine-fibroids/uterine-fibroids

[2]http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/uterine-fibroids/basics/symptoms/con-20037901

[3]http://www.patient.co.uk/health/fibroids-leaflet

[4]http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/160821.php

[5]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyst

[6]http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Ovarian-cyst/Pages/Introduction.aspx

[7]http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/ovarian-cysts/basics/causes/con-20019937

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