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Cancer

Possible Reccurence Of Cancer due to Cysts

06/09/2008

Question:

Can a cyst in the brain be determined by a CT scan? My husband had a brain tumor 27 years ago. He has been in the hospital and was just told that he has a cyst in his brain detected by the CT scan. I am told that a CT scan cannot actually determine the difference between a cyst and a mass, but it can identify a tumor which was how his first tumor was found. I believe he is trying to tell us that it is just a cyst to keep family from being upset, but I have suspected the tumor being back for over a month.

Answer:

Usually, cysts are fluid-filled and tumors are solid, and this can be seen on a CT scan. One can only tell the difference between benign and cancerous cysts by doing a biopsy, however in certain parts of the body it may be too risky to get a biopsy. Besides a biopsy, further imaging studies may be helpful for the brain, such as an MRI. If you think your husband is developing new problems that coincide with the finding of the cyst, you need to discuss this with the neurosurgeon or neurologist and ask if a biopsy or surgical removal is prudent.

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Response by:

Joanna M Brell, MD Joanna M Brell, MD
Formerly, Assistant Professor of Medicine
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University