Difference Between Polyp and Cyst

Anatomy is the most important branch of biology, which studies the parts and structure of organisms especially living beings. Anatomy is a very old science, and its origin can be dated back to the prehistoric era.


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Anatomy is divided into two parts, i.e. microscopic and macroscopic. Microscopic anatomy studies tissues of various structures, also called histology, i.e. study of cells. Polyp and Cyst come under Microscopic anatomy.

Polyp vs Cyst

The difference between Polyp and Cyst is that Polyp refers to abnormal growth of tissue, and it can happen in any part of the body. There are various types of polyp such as Digestive polyp, Endometrial polyp, Cervical polyp, Nasal polyps etc. A cyst is a closed sac that consists of semi-solid or fluid material. It is also an abnormal activity and takes place in the ovaries.

Polyp vs Cyst

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A polyp is referred to as the growth of tissue in an abnormal manner in the mucous membrane. Polyps can happen in several parts of the body, but it most commonly occurs, in the colon, stomach, urinary bladder, nose, ear, sinus(es), and uterus.

Polyps can develop into tumours and can be cancerous. Polyps can also be inherited from a family, which is called Inherited Polyposis syndrome.

A cyst is like a cluster of cells that comes together to form a closed sac, just like water molecules come together to form a bubble.

The cyst can be distinguished from shells because their growth is very abnormal, and behaviour is very distinct compared with the cells found in our body.

The cyst can be resolved on its own or by taking pills or contraceptives. But if it is not removed, then it can be removed surgically.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonPolypCyst
DefinitionGrowth of tissue in an abnormal manner in mucous.Semi-solid, liquid material and can be found in any part of the body.
CausesInflammation, Foreign bodies, Cysts and tumours etc.Bacterial infections, Clogging, obstruction etc.
SymptomsChronic inflammation in the stomach, Excessive estrogen level etc.Lump, increase in size, itchy, painful etc.
TreatmentSize, location, number, cancerous or non-cancerous. Pills or surgically
TypesSessile polyp, Pedunculated polypAcne cyst, choroid cyst, baker’s cyst, mucoid cyst etc.

What is Polyp?

The term Polyp is very ancient and originated in the 1400s. Since then, it has been used in English. Polyp comes from the Latin word ‘polypus’, meaning nasal polyp. Earlier the word Polyp was associated with animals, especially octopuses.

But after 1742, it came into use for human beings as well. Polyps usually can occur in any part of the body where the mucous membrane is situated.

Most commonly, polyps are found in the ear, stomach, uterus, and urinary bladder, but due to the presence of mucous, they can also be found in small intestines, cervix, vocal folds etc.

Abnormal growth of tissue is termed Polyp. It is attached to the stalk, then it is called pedunculated, and if it is not attached to the stalk, it is called sessile. Polyps can be of two types either they can develop into tumours called neoplasms.

Another Polyp that doesn’t develop into a tumour is called non-neoplastic or dysplastic, or hyperplastic. Neoplasm/Neoplastic Polyps are benign, which means that they are precancerous and develop into cancer at some stage.

Polyps can be of different types like Fundic polyp related to the fundus of the stomach, a Sessile serrated adenoma related to colorectal, Inflammatory, juvenile Polyp, Cowden syndrome, Malignant colon polyp, endometrial polyp, cervical polyp etc.

What is Cyst?

A cyst can be of two types, i.e. microcyst that needs to be magnified to detect. As the name micro, it is a very small cyst. Macrocyst is a very large cyst bigger than a normal cyst.

Cysts are enclosed in a sac, and they have a margin that is covered by an outer layer called a capsule. The inner layer consists of fluid, air or semi-solid. Cysts are not fatal. They are non-cancerous and can be treated by medicines, surgeries etc.

Sometimes cysts disappear on their own. Cysts are grouped like a cluster. Just like Polyps, their behaviour and appearance are abnormal. Cysts are usually common in females, especially in ovaries.

But it can also happen to males. Cysts can be found in both males as well as female reproductive systems like a Nabothian cyst, Ovarian cyst, vaginal cyst, Epididymal cyst etc.

Cysts are treated depending upon the size and on what location it has occurred. Cancer-related cysts are helpful sometimes because they form a defence mechanism for the body for mutations.

Once mutations have occurred, then cells will divide, the cyst will develop into a tumour. If cells began to mutate further, then cysts can become cancerous.

Cysts occur in our head, neck, abdomen, chest, central nervous system, musculoskeletal system etc.

Main Differences Between Polyp and Cyst

  1. A polyp is a growth of tissue in an abnormal manner in mucous. A cyst is a Semi-solid, liquid material and can be found in any part of the body.
  2. Causes of Polyp includes Inflammation, Foreign bodies, Cysts and tumours etc. Causes of Cyst include Bacterial infections, Clogging, obstruction etc.
  3. Symptoms of Polyp are Chronic inflammation in the stomach, Excessive estrogen level etc. Symptoms of Cyst are Lump, increase in size, itchy, painful etc.
  4. Treatment of polyp depends upon Size, location, number, cancerous or non-cancerous. Treatment of Cyst can be done by taking Pills or surgically.
  5. Types of Polyps are Sessile polyp, Pedunculated polyp, Malignant colon polyp, endometrial polyp etc. Types of Cyst are Acne cyst, choroid cyst, baker’s cyst, mucoid cyst etc.
  1. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamaotolaryngology/article-abstract/616642
  2. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1016/j.otohns.2006.12.009
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