1. CT Scan
CT Scan helps with the diagnosis and planning of treatment in case of pancreatic cysts. The biggest challenge involved in such tests is to find out whether the cyst is cancerous or not. CT Scan combines X-rays from different angles to give a detailed report about the structure of a pancreatic cyst. The scan may or may not be able to differentiate between the cancerous and non-cancerous cysts.
2. Endoscopic ultrasound
Endoscopic ultrasound, which is usually done after the Imaging tests, helps in visualizing the cyst and in extracting fluid from the cyst for detailed analysis. In this process, an endoscope equipped with an ultrasound probe is passed through the mouth into the stomach and the upper small intestine. The probe obtains images of the cyst and a needle extracts fluid from it.
3. Cyst fluid evaluation
Fluid extracted from a cyst is analyzed in a laboratory for possible signs of cancer. A substance called the Carcinoembryonic Antigen (CEA) is one such indicator. Elevated levels of CEA in the sample is highly suggestive of a cancerous cyst.
4. Imaging tests
If your doctor suspects a kidney cyst, he might recommend imaging tests such as an ultrasound, CT Scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). MRI creates images using magnetic fields and radio waves, highlighting the subtle details of the cyst structure. Imaging tests help in investigating kidney cysts and determining whether a kidney mass is a cyst or a tumor.
5. Pelvic ultrasound
In case of an ovarian cyst, a pelvic ultrasound helps in determining its type and the corresponding treatment required. Pelvic ultrasound is a painless procedure which makes use of a transducer to send and receive high-frequency sound waves. The transducer when moved over the abdomen produces images of the uterus and the ovaries on a calibrated video screen. The presence of a cyst can be either confirmed or ruled out by analyzing the images. Additionally, the location of the cyst can be known and the type of the cyst, whether it is solid, fluid-filled, or mixed, can be determined.
In this process, a small incision is made in the patient’s abdomen and a thin, lighted instrument called a laparoscope is inserted through it. The doctor can then locate the cyst in the ovaries and remove it.
7. CA 125 blood test
Women with ovarian cancer often have elevated levels of a protein called cancer antigen 125 (CA 125) in blood. In patients with ovarian cysts with a high risk of ovarian cancer, testing the level of CA 125 in blood is crucial to determine if the cyst is cancerous. However, elevated levels of CA 125 can also be seen in certain non-cancerous conditions such as endometriosis, uterine fibroids, and pelvic inflammatory diseases.
8. Breast ultrasound
Breast ultrasound helps determine whether a breast lump is solid or fluid filled. The ultrasound is usually performed by a radiologist. A fluid-filled area indicates a breast lump whereas a solid mass is most likely to be a non-cancerous lesion, such as fibroadenoma. However, in a few cases a solid mass can also indicate a cancerous cyst. The doctor might recommend a biopsy to further evaluate a solid-appearing mass.