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Nodule vs. Cyst: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Published on February 4, 2024
A nodule is a small, solid, often hard growth within body tissues, while a cyst is a sac-like structure filled with fluid, air, or other substances.

Key Differences

A nodule is a small, firm lump in body tissues, often resulting from inflammation, infection, or a tumor. Cysts, in contrast, are typically fluid-filled sacs that can form in various parts of the body due to various causes, including blockages of ducts, infections, or genetic conditions.
Nodules are generally solid and can be benign or malignant, depending on their cause and nature. Cysts are usually benign and characterized by their encapsulated structure, filled with fluid or semi-fluid content.
The texture of nodules is typically harder and more solid compared to cysts. Cysts, owing to their fluid content, often feel softer and can be movable under the skin.
Nodules can occur in various body parts, including the lungs, thyroid, and under the skin, and may or may not be symptomatic. Cysts can also appear in multiple locations like the skin, ovaries, and kidneys, and their symptoms depend on the size and location.
The treatment of nodules varies based on their cause and may include observation, medication, or surgery. Cyst treatment often involves drainage or removal, especially if they are causing discomfort or complications.

Comparison Chart


Solid, often hard
Fluid-filled, sac-like


Can be benign or malignant
Usually benign


Harder and more solid
Softer, often movable under the skin

Typical Causes

Inflammation, infection, tumors
Blockages, infections, genetic conditions


Lungs, thyroid, under the skin
Skin, ovaries, kidneys


May or may not be symptomatic
Symptoms depend on size and location


Observation, medication, surgery
Drainage, removal

Nodule and Cyst Definitions


Nodules can be either benign or malignant based on their cause and nature.
The biopsy confirmed that the lung nodule was benign.


A cyst is a sac-like structure that is typically filled with fluid, air, or other substances.
She had a small cyst on her wrist that was filled with fluid.


Nodules are generally firm and can be found in various body parts.
He felt a hard nodule under his skin on the arm.


Cysts are usually benign and form due to various reasons like blockages or infections.
The ultrasound revealed a benign cyst in her kidney.


A nodule is a small, solid lump often formed in tissues due to inflammation or tumors.
The doctor detected a small nodule in her thyroid during the examination.


Cysts often have a soft texture and can be movable under the skin.
The cyst on his back was soft and could be moved slightly.


The presence of nodules can be symptomatic or asymptomatic.
Despite the nodule on her neck, she experienced no symptoms.


The symptoms of a cyst depend on its size and location in the body.
The large cyst on her ovary was causing discomfort.


Treatment of nodules varies, including observation, medication, or surgery.
The nodule was treated successfully with surgical removal.


Treatment for cysts may involve drainage or surgical removal.
The doctor decided to drain the cyst to relieve the pain.


A small knotlike protuberance.


An abnormal membranous sac in the body containing a gaseous, liquid, or semisolid substance.


(Medicine) A small, abnormal but usually benign mass of tissue, as on the thyroid gland, in the lung, or under the skin.


Are cysts usually cancerous?

Cysts are usually benign.

What is a nodule?

A small, solid lump often formed in body tissues.

What is a cyst?

A sac-like structure filled with fluid, air, or other substances.

Where can nodules form?

In the lungs, thyroid, under the skin, and other body parts.

Where are cysts commonly found?

In the skin, ovaries, kidneys, and other locations.

How are nodules detected?

Through physical examination, imaging tests like X-rays or CT scans.

What causes cysts to develop?

Blockages, infections, genetic conditions.

Can nodules be cancerous?

Yes, nodules can be benign or malignant.

How are cysts diagnosed?

Often through ultrasound, MRI, or CT scans.

Can nodules cause pain?

Some nodules can be painful, depending on their location.

What causes nodules to form?

Inflammation, infection, or tumors.

Is a biopsy necessary for nodules?

A biopsy may be needed to determine if a nodule is malignant.

Is a biopsy required for cysts?

Not always, unless there's a suspicion of malignancy.

Are nodules common?

Yes, they are fairly common and can occur in various body parts.

Do cysts typically cause discomfort?

Large or infected cysts can cause discomfort.

How are cysts treated?

Often through drainage or surgical removal.

Can nodules go away on their own?

Some nodules, especially inflammatory ones, can resolve without treatment.

What is the treatment for nodules?

Observation, medication, or surgery, based on the cause.

Can cysts disappear without treatment?

Some small cysts can resolve on their own.

Are cysts a common occurrence?

Yes, cysts are common and can occur in people of all ages.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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