Understanding Potential Risks of a Liver Cyst

A liver cyst is a closed sac filled with gas, fluid, or some type of semisolid material.  Obviously, any type of cyst is not a normal part of tissue so this would be an indicator of something going on in the body, whether minor or major.  Cysts can actually develop on any part of the body and they are very common.  In addition, the size of the cyst would vary, some being so small they are hard to see with the naked eye and others so large they can be the size of an orange.  In fact, two women had cysts weighing more than 100 pounds, although something like this is extremely rare.

A liver cyst could develop for a number of reasons.  For instance, there could be some type of obstruction specific to fluid inside the body, it could be from an infection, inflammation, generic disease, defect, or a cyst could actually be a tumor.  Most tumors can be prevented by understanding the cause and if one were to develop, most are not serious.  However, because a liver cyst affects one of the body’s major organs, doctors typically take this a little more seriously.

If a cyst were growing on the skin, it could be seen and felt, but with a liver cyst, most people have no idea until a CAT scan, MRI, or x-ray detects it.  However, depending on the type of cyst, the exact location, and the size, the individual might experience abdominal pain, run a low-grade fever, or have an overall feeling of not being well.  At that point, a doctor’s visit would guide the doctor to appropriate measures to determine the reason for the symptoms.

Cysts can develop in the breasts, kidneys, bone, pancreas, and other places in addition to the liver.  Usually a liver cyst is benign but since there is risk of malignant cancer in the form of a tumor or even a serious infection, the right type of testing needs to be done to determine if any risk exists.  If a liver cyst is found and the doctor has no clear understanding of its severity, a biopsy might be taken so the cyst could be looked at under a microscope.

Treatment of a liver cyst would depend on size, exact location, type, and its level of aggressiveness.  If small, doctors may just watch the cyst for awhile to see if it disappears or continues to grow.  However, cysts of this type are often removed with surgery.  If the doctor is suspicious of cancer, not only would the liver cyst be removed but also any affected surrounding tissue.  Once removed, just as with a biopsy, the tissue and fluid of the liver cyst would be examined to look for cancerous cells.

The worst thing a person could do when having symptoms that go along with a liver cyst is to ignore them.  If the cyst were to be cancerous, a number of treatment options would be offered and in many cases, people go on to live a long and healthy life.  Therefore, while scary, having a liver cyst is not automatically a death sentence.