Although you can get cysts on your tonsils, it’s very rare.
According to a 2013 case report published in the Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology, an epidermoid cyst in a tonsil is quite unusual. In fact, the report which featured a tonsil with an epidermoid cyst indicated that, in a literature search, they could find no other mention of one.
A 2016 case study also found that a lymphoepithelial cyst (LEC) in a tonsil is rare, with only a few cases ever having been reported in literature.
Because a cyst on your tonsil is out of the ordinary, you might mistake another condition for a cyst. In this article, we’ll review other conditions that may be mistaken for tonsil cysts.
- Tonsillitis. This inflammation of the tonsils typically includes swollen tonsils with yellow or white patches or coating.
- Strep throat. This bacterial infection may include swollen tonsils with white patches.
- Infectious mononucleosis. Symptoms of this viral infection may include swollen tonsils.
- Tonsil stones (tonsilloliths). These are calcium deposits caused by a buildup of food particles, bacteria, and mucus.
If you think you have a cyst on one of your tonsils, it could be a peritonsillar abscess.
A peritonsillar abscess is a bacterial infection which can form a pocket of pus near one of your tonsils. It’s often a complication of tonsillitis or mononucleosis.
Cysts and abscesses are similar but different. They are both typically benign and filled with fluid, but an abscess is infected while a cyst is not. If a cyst becomes infected, it turns into an abscess.
The symptoms of tonsil cancer are similar to tonsillitis or strep throat, including:
- persistent sore throat
- white or red patch on a tonsil
- discomfort chewing or swallowing
- persistent earache
Tonsil cancer falls into the category of oropharyngeal cancers, cancers that affect the throat and mouth.
According to Cancer.net, annually over 53,000 American adults are diagnosed with oral and oropharyngeal cancer.
Your tonsils, also known as palatine tonsils, are oval-shaped pads located at the back of your throat. You have one on the right and one on the left. They’re covered with a pink mucous membrane, similar to the mucosa of the lining of your mouth.
Tonsils are part of your immune system. They defend against viruses and bacteria that enter your body through your mouth and throat.
Your tonsils contain lymphocytes which are a type of white blood cell that helps your body fight illnesses.
It’s highly unlikely that you have a cyst on one of your tonsils. You could, however, have another condition that you could be mistaken for a cyst, such as:
- strep throat
- infectious mononucleosis
- tonsil stones
- peritonsillar abscess
- tonsil cancer
Schedule a visit with your primary care doctor or an otolaryngologist (ENT) if you have persistent symptoms, such as sore throat and white or red patch(es) on a tonsil.