Ovarian Tumors

Generally, you have two ovaries which help regulate the reproductive processes in women. As the ovaries mature during adolescence, they begin producing hormones and regulating menstruation. The ovaries frequently develop cysts, most of which are non-threatening. However, some women develop ovarian tumors, which may not always be as benign as simple cysts. Tumors require further examination and possible intervention.

Ovarian Tumors

Generally, you have two ovaries which help regulate the reproductive processes in women. As the ovaries mature during adolescence, they begin producing hormones and regulating menstruation. The ovaries frequently develop cysts, most of which are non-threatening. However, some women develop ovarian tumors, which may not always be as benign as simple cysts. Tumors require further examination and possible intervention.

What is an Ovarian Cyst?

An ovarian cyst is a sac or pouch filled with fluid or other tissue that forms in or on an ovary. Ovarian cysts are very common. They can occur during the childbearing years or after menopause. Most ovarian cysts are benign (not cancer) and go away on their own without treatment. Rarely, a cyst may be malignant (cancer).

Types of cysts include the following:

  • Functional cyst: This is the most common type of ovarian cyst. It usually causes no symptoms. Functional cysts often go away without treatment within 6–8 weeks.
  • Teratoma: This type of cyst contains different kinds of tissues that make up the body, such as skin and hair. These cysts may be present from birth but can grow during a woman’s reproductive years. In very rare cases, some teratomas can become cancer.
  • Cystadenoma: These cysts form on the outer surface of the ovary. They can grow very large but usually are benign.
  • Endometrioma: This cyst forms as a result of endometriosis.

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How are Ovarian Cysts Treated?

There are several treatment options for cysts. Choosing an option depends on the type of cyst and other factors. Treatment options include watchful waiting and, if the cyst is large or causing symptoms, surgery.

 

Watchful waiting is a way of monitoring a cyst with repeat ultrasound exams to see if the cyst has changed in size or appearance. Your ob-gyn or other health care professional will decide when to repeat the ultrasound exam and how long this follow-up should last. Many cysts go away on their own after one or two menstrual cycles.

 

Surgery may be recommended if your cyst is very large or causing symptoms or if cancer is suspected. The type of surgery depends on several factors, including how large the cyst is, your age, your desire to have children, and whether you have a family history of ovarian or breast cancer. A cystectomy is the removal of a cyst from the ovary. In some cases, an ovary may need to be removed. This is called an oophorectomy.

How is Surgery Performed?

If your cyst is thought to be benign, a laparoscopy is the usual way this is treated. Occasionally an open surgery is needed. Open surgery may be done if cancer is suspected or if the cyst is too large to be removed by laparoscopy.

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