If you’re wondering if a skin cyst can ever turn into a melanoma, this is a very fair question.
It’s possible for a melanoma to be clinically misdiagnosed as a cyst.
This article, though, is about an actual cyst – something that, under a microscope, would get confirmation of benign cystic properties.
With that said, is it ever possible, even remotely, that a cyst in the skin can one day transform into a melanoma?
“A skin cyst cannot turn into a melanoma,” says Emily de Golian, MD, a board certified dermatologist with Forefront Dermatology in Atlanta, GA.
“Even among skin cancers, one type of skin cancer, for instance basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma, cannot turn into a different type of skin cancer.
“Skin cysts are movable bumps underneath the skin, usually without overlying skin changes except perhaps a small opening to the skin surface called a punctum, which may allow the cyst contents to drain periodically.
“Melanoma derives from cells in the epidermis of the skin, which is the top layer of skin, so skin surface changes are typically the first signs that a melanoma is present.
“Rarely, melanoma may derive from uveal cells in the eye. The only instance in which a melanoma might resemble a cyst would be metastatic melanoma traveling from one place in the body to another, and even in these cases, there are nearly always skin surface changes present and a previous known diagnosis of melanoma.
“Although bumps that appear to be a skin cyst are not always skin cysts and may represent other growths under the skin, usually benign, a skin cyst can never turn into a melanoma.
“And bumps that appear to be skin cysts indeed turn out to be just that — the vast majority of the time — when they are removed and examined by a pathologist.”
Dr. de Golian focuses on the surgical treatment of skin cancer via Mohs surgery, cutaneous oncology (melanoma and basal cell carcinoma), surgical defect reconstruction and cosmetic dermatology.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.