A nabothian cyst is another name for a cervical cyst. Since it forms on the cervix, this condition only occurs in women. Cervical cysts are rarely cancerous and often do not require any treatment. Occasionally, however, they may cause complications that require a doctor's care.
These cysts appear as small, round bumps on the surface of the cervix. A nabothian cyst forms when the glands that line the cervix become plugged with mucus secretions. This happens when there is an excessive production of skin cells in the area, a process called metaplasia. The accumulation of mucus forms a cyst. A patient may have only one cyst or she may have several.
There may be no obvious cause for a woman to suddenly develop a cyst. A history of cervical infections may predispose a patient to developing cervical cysts. Additionally, these growths tend to be more common throughout the childbearing years, especially around the time of a pregnancy. When a woman hits menopause, however, the skin within the cervix tends to thin. This may also make a patient more likely to develop the cysts.
Frequently, the patient will not experience any symptoms associated with a cyst. Those that result in symptoms should be examined by a doctor. A woman may experience irregular bleeding, vaginal discharge, and pain in the area. She may also experience pain during intercourse. These symptoms may be indicative of an underlying problem, such as cervical cancer.
Women who do not experience symptoms of a nabothian cyst may remain unaware that they have one. Typically, a doctor will diagnose the condition during a routine pelvic exam. If the cyst appears abnormal or causes symptoms, the patient need to undergo an exam called a colposcopy.
A colposcope is used to perform a colposcopy. The doctor will likely take a small sample of tissue, also called a biopsy. A laboratory will then test the tissue sample for cancer.
Cervical cysts often do not require treatment, particularly if they do not cause symptoms and the doctor has determined that they are not abnormal or cancerous. If a cluster of nabothian cysts is large enough to interfere with routine examinations, the doctor may open them and drain them of mucus. Should the nabothian cyst prove positive for cancer, the doctor will likely refer the patient to an oncologist to develop a course of treatment. This may include surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy.