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What are the chances of a cyst being cancerous?

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Quick Answer

Cysts are very common, and they have a low chance of turning into cancers, reports Breastcancer.org. Women sometimes develop harmless cysts called cyclical lumps, which grow before the menstrual cycle and eventual disappear. Cysts appear in various body parts, including soft tissues, organs and bones, explains Mayo Clinic. While most cysts are noncancerous, almost all cancers can create cysts. Doctors perform a biopsy to find out if a cyst is harmless.

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Full Answer

Some types of cysts include ovarian cysts and sebaceous cysts, which appear below the skin, states Mayo Clinic. When performing a biopsy to determine the presence of cancer, doctors obtain a tissue sample from the cyst or remove the entire cyst, and then they examine the sample using a microscope.

Ovarian cysts often shrink without treatment, according to Everyday Health. Functional cysts, which are associated with the menstrual cycle, are ovarian cysts that typically disappear within 60 days.

Women who previously developed cysts and find new lumps in their breasts should consult a doctor, especially if the lumps grow larger or do not disappear, notes Breastcancer.org. Doctors may perform an ultrasound to check if a breast lump is a harmless cyst. They also sometimes conduct a breast biopsy, which involves the insertion of a needle into the lump. If the needle drains the fluid in the lump, the lump is a simple cyst.

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