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Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month 2023: Ovarian Cysts

As the fifth most common cancer among women, knowing the warning signs associated with ovarian cancer is key. Ovarian cysts are one such risk factor, but what do you need to look out for? Find out here.

Tagged: Body & Breast

Author: Mr. Bryan Mayou, MB ChB FRCS

Date: 2nd March 2023

Medically Reviewed by:  Dr. Susan Mayou (GMC: 2405092)

Last reviewed: 14th January 2024

This March is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, a time to bring attention to a disease that affects thousands of women each year. As the fifth most common cancer among women, it's important to understand the warning signs and risk factors associated with ovarian cancer.

Ovarian cysts are one such risk factor, and understanding their link with ovarian cancer is essential to ensure timely treatment. We’ve put together some key facts to help you understand your ovarian cysts a little more.

 

What are Ovarian Cysts?

Ovarian cysts are fluid-filled sacs that develop on the ovaries. They are very common, and most women will develop at least one cyst during their lifetime. In most cases, ovarian cysts are harmless and go away on their own. However, some cysts can cause discomfort or indicate an underlying condition.

The link between Ovarian Cysts and Ovarian Cancer

While most ovarian cysts are benign, some types of cysts can develop into cancerous tumours. Ovarian cancer often goes undetected until it has spread to other organs, making early detection and treatment vital. Women who have gone through menopause or have a family history of ovarian cancer, are at a higher risk of developing ovarian cancer.

When Should You Get Ovarian Cysts Removed?

In most cases, ovarian cysts do not require treatment and will go away on their own. However, if you experience symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, or changes in bowel movements, it is essential to see a doctor. If your doctor suspects that your cyst may be cancerous, they may recommend removing the cyst and possibly the entire ovary.

If you have a family history of ovarian cancer or a genetic mutation, your doctor may recommend removing your ovaries as a preventive measure. This procedure, known as a prophylactic oophorectomy, can reduce your risk of developing ovarian cancer by up to 90%.

Ovarian cancer screening can help detect the disease in its early stages, making treatment more effective. However, there is currently no standard screening test for ovarian cancer, and routine pelvic exams are not effective in detecting ovarian cancer. Women who are at a high risk of developing ovarian cancer should speak with their doctor about their screening options, such as transvaginal ultrasound or a blood test to measure CA-125 levels.

While ovarian cysts are common and usually harmless, we should be aware of their potential link to ovarian cancer. If you experience symptoms or have a family history of ovarian cancer, speak with your doctor about your risk and screening options. Remember that early detection is key, and being proactive about your health can make all the difference.

 





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