Wednesday, January 18, 2012

What is a dermoid cyst?

You may not have noticed, but there is a quiet debate going on about dermoid cysts.   (A dermoid cyst is known to doctors as a "mature cystic teratoma" so you may as well know that.)  If a dermoid cyst is found on the ovary,  the first thing to understand about them is that they are not to do with a current pregnancy.  If they are found under the skin, or on the abdomen or even in the brain, they are not made up of skin cells from the individual concerned.

They are created from embryonic cells and the hypothesis is that  a cystic teratoma is formed when embryonic cells from a vanished twin are absorbed by the sole survivor and may grow in a random kind of fashion and may even produce teeth, hair and bone but they never make up the normal body shape of a fetus. If a fetus does grow inside the host twin,  then it's known as a fetus in fetu.

This  is what I said about dermoid cysts in "Womb twin survivors, the lost twin in the Dream of the Womb":

Dermoid cyst
These cysts are smaller than teratomas, and they vary according to how many recognizable tissues can be seen within the cyst. Usually they contain hair and a few teeth, for the cells in a dermoid cyst are from the  outer layer of cells known as the ectoderm, which forms into skin, teeth, nails and hair. They are often found on the ovary, in which case they are known as ovarian cysts.
I had a dermoid ovarian cyst, which twisted and ruptured. I had surgery when I was
16. Another tumor developed on the other ovary, which was removed age 18. I had a
vivid imaginary friend until I was 5 or 6. Always felt weird, lonely and different.
I’m not sure why I’m here on this planet.
Recent reports suggest that a teratoma is a less well-developed form of foetus in
foetu. Or conversely, a foetus in foetu is a more developed and differentiated
teratoma. Unlike the foetus in foetu however, some teratomas are comprised of cells
with different chromosomes to the Alpha twin and they may become malignant.

A teratoma can grow to the size of a grapefruit and may contain any kind of tissue, sometimes
organized into a recognizable form, such as hair, or tiny hands or feet. Otherwise there
may be a mass of specific cells that form a specific organ, such as brain, thyroid, liver or
lung cells. In one rare case, a tumour developing externally at the base of a baby’s
spine was opened during surgery to reveal a “rudimentary organ resembling a heart” which
pulsated with a different rhythm to the baby’s own heart.

I think that a teratoma, and a mature cystic teratoma, is formed from the cells of a vanished twin that passed into the body of the survivor.

What do you think?


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  3. Having recently learned I have a dermoid cyst, I'm on the fence about whether I prefer it to be an absorbed twin or my own tissue.
    I think it comes down to the chromosomal match. If it's the same as the host, then it's not an absorbed twin. If it's different, then it seems a more rationale conclusion that it was a potential other being, but, to really say that it is a twin is to assume that the tissue ever had the real potential to develop into a being unto itself, which we have no way of knowing.
    That said, as a story, the idea that "I had a twin that was never born" is a comforting explanation for the feeling of incompleteness we all experience from time to time.

  4. I had a dermoid cyst removed from my ovary more than 40 yrs ago, and I heard then that the theory then was that it could have been my twin. I always wanted an older sister. I don't know how this would work, but maybe it would have been that sister? I always felt lonely when I was a kid.

  5. I had one removed the size of a grapefruit in 2012. Had blonde hair in it and some bone fragments. The doctor didn't let me see it but took pictures. Always curious as to if it was a twin. I was an only child.

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