A cyst is a mass in any body organ which encloses fluid material in a cavity. Cysts that occur in the liver can have various causes, but these are usually not cancerous. Nor do the usual types of liver cysts have the potential of transforming into cancer later on. There are certain types of cystic malignancies originating from other body organs (examples: ovarian cystadenocarcinoma, hemangioendothelioma) which can metastasize to the liver and form cancerous cystic liver tumors, but these are relatively uncommon.
The more common causes of liver cysts are non-cancerous, and include the following:
1. Infection. Bacteria or amoeba can invade the liver and cause pus-filled cysts (abscess). Tapeworm infestation can also result in formation of liver cysts (hydatid cysts) containing tapeworm larvae.
2. Trauma. Blood-filled cysts (hematoma) can result from any significant traumatic injury involving the liver.
3. Polycystic Liver Disease. This is a genetic disorder which results in the dilatation of the glands and ducts of various organs, but particularly, the kidneys and liver. Caroli Disease is another such genetic disorder resulting in progressive dilatation of intrahepatic bile ducts. These diseases have not been established to result in subsequent malignant transformation.
Treatment would depend on the cause of the liver cyst. Bacterial and amoebic abscesses, as well as hydatid cysts can be treated with the appropriate antimicrobials or antihelminthic medications. Liver hematoma can either be drained surgically, or if it is not very large, supportive care can be administered while waiting for the hematoma to resolve spontaneously. Embolization of the hepatic artery can decrease the size of liver cysts in polycystic liver disease. Surgical resection of the cysts can also be done.
If you have a liver cyst, the best thing to do is to have it properly evaluated and diagnosed, so that the appropriate treatment can be given.
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