The major difference between a tumor and a cyst is that a tumor is composed of normal body tissue but a cyst is composed of a gas or fluid filled sac. Both tumors and cysts can be indicative of cancer, but with a tumor, the cancer is the tumor itself, but with a cyst there is a difference, the cyst is only a side effect of a cancer possibly located somewhere else in the body.
The majority of both cysts and tumors are not cancerous and cause problems only if they interfere with the normal structure and function of organs in the body. Without any medical equipment or testing, the easiest way to tell the difference between a cyst and a tumor is by palpating it. A cyst will feel softer, and may move if enough pressure is applied. A tumor is much harder and will not move as it is much more intergrated into the tissue surrounding it.
Tumors are different than cysts and are usually caused by a genetic error that occurs during cellular division. There are many causes of this, including the presence of free radicals or of a virus inside the cell. Free radicals are highly reactive chemicals that usually are brought into the body by way of pollution or contamination, but are also produced inside the body during metabolism. Both free radicals and virus interact with DNA during a vital point in cellular division and cause the cell to go haywire and rapidly reproduce.
Cysts are different than tumors in that they are mainly caused secondary to another problem. Most frequently, cysts form when normal flow of body fluids is impaired. The fluid builds up and is isolated from the surrounding tissue as a defense mechanism by the body. The body will produce a capsule around the fluid to prevent it from causing cellular damage to the tissue around the cyst. In most cases, cysts do not pose a major health problem unless their size impairs normal organ function.
There is one common type of cyst that can pose health risks and that is an ovarian cyst. Because of their location, if an ovarian cyst bursts, the fluid can cause an extreme medical emergency. Fortunately, ovarian cysts are very painful when they are very small, which gives the individual warning that there is a problem before there is a real danger of it bursting. For this reason is it important to always pay attention to abdominal pain, especially around the time of ovulation.
All tumors and cysts should be examined by a physician; and either an ultrasound or biopsy might be performed to verify the situation. Because most forms of cancer have a much higher survival rate if caught early, it is impairative to not delay seeing a doctor as soon as the tumor or cyst is detected.