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Difference Between Tumor and Cyst

tumorTumor vs Cyst

The terms tumor and cyst are often used to mean the same thing. However, there are a number of differences between the two. Let us take a look at the main differences between the two:

A cyst refers to a closed sac that contains fluids, gas or semi solid substances. A cyst can occur anywhere on the body. It may be produced on the skin surface or on soft tissue. The outer wall of a cyst is called a capsule. On the other hand, a tumor is a mass of tissue that is visible as a lump in the body. Once again, a tumor may also form inside the body. In such a case, it cannot be seen by the naked eye, it has to be made visible by an ultrasound.

A cyst may be caused by a number of reasons. They can occur when there is an infection in the body, clogging of certain glands like the sebaceous gland or around foreign bodies. A cyst may also arise when there is an obstruction to the flow of natural fluids inside the body. A cyst can be felt as a lump when it is on the skin or just beneath the surface.

In contrast, the reason behind the formation of a tumor is not really clear. The only possible link has been drawn to a person’s genetic build-up, which predisposes him to certain tumors!

Due to the fact that a cyst is most often filled with liquid or semi solids, a cyst will usually feel soft to the hand. However, a tumor is more often harder when we touch it because it is a mass of tissues.

A tumor rarely poses a danger to the person who has it, unless it is malignant. However, a cyst may pose a danger if it is left unattended on certain parts of the body. For instance, rapidly growing cysts in the ovary may rupture and fill the abdomen with the contents. This can be very dangerous for a woman. For this reason, the cysts should be evaluated continuously.

Another difference between the two relates to that dreaded disease, cancer. Almost 90% of all cysts on the human body are benign. This means that they are not cancerous. However, the chances of a tumor being cancerous are higher. Though some cancers may produce cysts as symptoms, the chances are less.

1. A cyst is a sac filled with fluids or gas, but a tumor is a solid mass of tissues.
2. For the reason above, it feel softer than a tumor.
3. A cyst is less likely to be cancerous, compared to a tumor.
4. Cysts are caused by infections, excessive production from sebaceous glands, or a foreign body. Tumors are mainly genetic in nature.
5. A cyst inside the body can rupture and spill its contents, thereby posing a serious danger to the person. A tumor is harmless as long as it is non cancerous and does not interfere with the functioning of a body.

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  1. Very nice, informative.

  2. My husband’s mother had breast cancer. After removing the breast and treatment she survived for tenyears. After she had bone cancer and survived only for eight months. Now there is cyst in my daughter’s scalp. Do i have to go for cancer diagnosis. Kindly advice us.


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