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Difference Between Cyst and Tumor


Do you want to learn the difference between a cyst and a tumor? Is your skin growing lumps and you are worried about it? In most instances, these lumps are benign and are often of two types, cysts and tumors. You’ll mostly find them in the same place, so it’s difficult to distinguish between the two. However, there are still some clear variations to know among them.

Both cysts and tumors can extend from anywhere in the body. These can grow on bones, near tendons or ligaments, or soft tissues (connective tissues). A cyst is usually a tissue sack containing other substances. Whereas, a tumor is formed of solid tissue masses that feel hard when touched. Let’s move toward the article to know more differences between Cysts and Tumors.

Comparison Chart

Basis of ComparisonCystTumor
DefinitionAn outgrowth on a body, containing air, fluid, or other substances in it.The tissue masses formed on a body due to the continuous division of cells.
CauseMostly grows due to any infection or hurdles in an organ.No clear cause of tumors, but usually due to hereditary disorders.
Form of the OutgrowthsThese are generally soft and painless.Hard masses that can be heavily painful
Nature of OutgrowthsMost of the cysts are harmless, so benign in nature.Tumors can be benign or malignant
TreatmentA cyst usually goes on its ownMalignant tumor requires chemotherapy or radiations

Cysts – Brief Explanation

cyst in the head

Most cysts are non-cancerous lumps/bumps of tissues, packed with liquid, air, or semi-solid substances. It is the type of anomaly that can grow anywhere in the body, at any age. A cyst can be small or large, where its treatment relies on multiple factors. Doctors can remove a cyst as per its location, checking its severity of infection or the type of cyst.

Due to numerous medical problems, cysts can develop in various types, resulting in medical emergencies. These include ganglion, epidermoid cyst, sebaceous cyst, ovarian cyst, breast cyst, baker’s cyst, dermoid cyst, and pilonidal cyst, etc.

Tumors – Brief Explanation

tumor on face

Tumors are the growth of body tissues because of abnormal growth and division of cells. This fast and uncontrolled cell division leads to the accumulation of cells in a specific body area and inflames that portion. Sometimes, a tumor’s extensive growth sets pressure on the nearby tissues and infects them.

Tumors can either be benign or malignant. The former doesn’t affect the surrounding tissues, while the latter are cancerous which divides and spreads in the whole body.

Know the Differences Between a Cyst and a Tumor

There are some obvious differences between the two. Let’s discuss them one by one below:



A sac-like bulging of the body tissues, full of air, liquor, or other matters, is called cysts. They can abnormally grow in any part of the body, for instance, ovarian cyst, breast cyst, etc.


Tumors are solid lumps of tissues formed due to the continuous distribution of cells. All cancerous cells can be tumors, due to any defined cause. All cancer types are either benign or malignant. These are the painful hard projections that increase in size within weeks.

Main Cause


Several people have cysts of different types, and even the causes are not the same. It depends on a person’s disease or medical condition, which can either be due to ovulation, abnormality in hair follicles, multiplication of cells, or degeneration of body tissues.


The main cause of a growing tumor is the unusual and continuous growth of cells. Other causes include the formation and division of body cells when they are not needed.



These are usually abnormal cell outgrowths that are non-cancerous (not harmful).


A tumor can be cancerous or non-cancerous, depending on the division of body cells. A benign tumor will not affect its nearby cells, tissues, or organs. Whereas a malignant tumor steadily affects the surrounding organs and can be lethal.




Doctors usually do not recommend any treatment for cysts unless they get painful. At the time of operating them, experts discard the dangerous fluid out of the lumps. Still, there are more chances of developing the cyst back.


Malignant tumors are deadly, so they should be recognized on time. One of the advanced technologies includes MRI and CT scans. After detecting the type of tumor, doctors remove them by chemotherapy or radiation or, in serious cases, use a combination of both. Sometimes, surgical treatments are done in case of sensitive organ issues.


So from the topic above, we concluded that both these terms, cysts and tumors, are different. It’s always scary to find an outgrowth on a body unless and until you properly treat it. One should directly contact a physician if he/she observes a painful cyst or tumor in any part of the body.

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