Cyst: This is a pocket of fluid that develops within a body tissue, similar to a blister, that contains either liquid, gaseous or semi-solid material. Most cysts are benign (non-cancerous) and are caused by plugged ducts or other outlets the body uses for secreting substances. However, some cysts may form inside tumors. These can be malignant.
Tumor: When abnormal cell growth results in a lump–a mass of tissue–it is called a tumor. Benign (non-cancerous) tumors grow more slowly than malignant ones. But they can grow big enough to put pressure on vital body organs, which can cause serious health problems. Malignant tumors are faster-growing, and can spread to other organs–and damage them.
What are benign esophageal cysts and tumors?
These non-cancerous (at least, at present) growths on the esophagus are fairly rare. They can be located either within the muscular wall of the esophagus or within the esophagus’ hollow tube. While benign cysts and tumors do not indicate cancer is present, their existence can mean a greater risk for developing cancer of the esophagus at a later date.
What are the symptoms of benign esophageal cysts and tumors?
Sometimes esophageal cysts and tumors cause no symptoms, and are discovered during examination of the esophagus for other reasons. However, in some cases, this condition can cause swallowing problems, food getting stuck in the esophagus, chest pain, or the regurgitation of food.
What tests can I expect?
Benign cysts and tumors on the esophagus are usually diagnosed by imaging methods, such as a CT (or CAT) scan, an MRI, or a standard upper endoscopy (viewing the inside of the esophagus by inserting a tube with a light and camera into the area through the mouth).
What are my treatment options?
If your surgeon recommends removing the cyst or tumor, the surgical technique will depend on the growth’s size and location. Small growths are removed using endoscopic mucosal resection (EMR). This technique involves the use of an endoscope to remove the cyst or tumor.
If the cyst or tumor is larger or lies deep within the esophagus, you may need surgery to remove it. This may involve removing a portion of the esophagus (esophagectomy). An esophagectomy may be performed using open surgery or minimally invasive techniques.