Small balls sometimes appear on the body. Most of the time, this is nothing serious, but in some cases a medical consultation is necessary. How to recognize a lymph node from a cyst? When to consult?
A lump or lump appearing on the body is cause for concern. We take stock.
Do not confuse cyst and ganglion
Cysts are ball-shaped pockets filled with liquid, gas, or a more or less solid substance. They develop in an organ. By definition, they remain benign, but they can interfere with the functioning of the affected organ. In addition, the pressure exerted on adjacent tissues can cause complications and some painful forms are associated with tumors that can be malignant. The most common cysts are on the skin.
“This is the case with those microscopic white balls that we find on the face. Others are discovered during an X-ray or ultrasound of the breasts, ovaries, kidneys or knees, ”says Dr. Sylvaine Le Liboux, general practitioner.
The ganglia belong to lymphatic system, with one mission: to defend ourselves. Lymph nodes are home to a family of white blood cells, the lymphocytes, and filter waste, germs, and damaged cells, including cancer cells, from the lymph. They are usually only felt when they start to swell (lymphadenopathy).
Where are the cysts and lymph nodes most often?
The main locations of cysts
- Face cyst (sebaceous cyst)
- Wrist cyst (synovial cyst)
- Breast cyst
- Kidney cyst
- Ovarian cyst
- Cyst in an intergluteal hair (pilonidal cyst)
- Knee cyst (back)
The main locations of the lymph nodes
- Neck ganglion
- Ganglion in the armpit
- Ganglion in the abdomen
- Ganglion in the groin
What are the causes of a cyst? a ganglion
Causes of cysts
They are many. They can result from hormonal imbalance, a strong emotion, a trauma or shock, excess sedentary lifestyle, irritation or even repeated rubbing on the skin during sports sessions for example.
Causes of enlarged lymph nodes
“They reflect an attack on the organism: most often, a inflammation or a infection. In the most serious cases, it is an alarm signal which indicates the presence of a autoimmune disease or a tumor », Explains Dr Jean-Louis Bensoussan.
If thelymphadenopathy is present in only one area, it is a local inflammation or a targeted infection. If it concerns several areas, it is a sign of a general infection, for example staphylococcus, mononucleosis, viral hepatitis, or even toxoplasmosis. More rarely, it may be a lymph node tumor (lymphoma) or damage to the bone marrow.
Cyst or ganglion: when to consult?
Depending on their nature, location and persistence, these balls may indicate disease.
- Cysts : it’s always better to discuss it with your doctor. Those on the skin can be removed surgically. Those present in the breasts (breast cysts) must be subject to regular medical surveillance to ensure that they do not develop into a tumor. “In both cases, they are only removed if they grow too big and become troublesome,” says Dr. Le Liboux.
- The ganglia : in the majority of cases, their swelling does not last more than a week. If they persist longer or if they are accompanied by pain, it is necessary to consult. “Only a doctor will be able to tell the difference between a swollen, painful but benign node, from a tumor node,” says Dr. Bensoussan. The small, less than 5 mm, are not of a disturbing nature. On the other hand, the larger or hard nodes require additional examinations to find out the origin, in order to benefit from a possible treatment.