Cysts may be caused by a small gland in the vocal fold that does not drain well and accumulates mucous. It may also be caused by vocal trauma resulting in implantation of skin cells (from the cover of the vocal fold) inside the vocal fold. These cells then multiply and form a cyst.
Symptoms include breaks in the voice, raspiness, vocal strain, vocal fatigue, and loss of range. Generally, cysts are diagnosed by sight.
Unlike nodules, cysts usually do not respond well to voice therapy alone. Generally, surgical removal of the lesion is recommended, followed by a period of voice rest, a significant (but temporary) reduction in voice use, and then voice therapy. In borderline cases, treatment may include an abbreviated course of voice therapy to determine whether voice surgery is necessary.
Cysts involve a slower recovery time than nodules or polyps. After a month, the voice should feel pretty good; by three months, singers should be ready to perform.