Hide This

FREEHER HealthToolkit

HER Health Toolkit

Sign up for EmpowHER updates and you'll receive our
FREE HER Health Toolkit

Ovarian Cancer

Get Email Updates

Resource Centers

Related Checklists

Ovarian Cancer Guide

Susan Cody HERWriter Guide

Have a question? We're here to help. Ask the Community.

ASK

Health Newsletter

Receive the latest and greatest in women's health and wellness from EmpowHER - for free!

Do Ovarian Cysts Mean I Have Cancer?

By Lynette Summerill HERWriter
 
Rate This

While undergoing a routine check up, the doctor presses on your lower abdomen and asks you if you feel any pain. He or she may be looking for ovarian cysts, small collections of fluid within the ovaries. Ovarian cysts don’t always indicate ovarian cancer, but they can, especially after menopause.

During the menstrual cycle, ovaries will frequently develop benign cysts, called functional cysts. In fact, you may not even know you have them. Cysts can range from no symptoms at all, to severe pain.

These cysts can also be part of other conditions, like endometriosis, which is not ovarian cancer, but rather another reproductive system disorder that occurs when the lining of the uterus grows in other places as well.

In cases where symptoms are not noticeable or barely noticeable, cysts can be very difficult to diagnose. Women experiencing subtle symptoms report feeling gassy, lower abdominal pressure, or urinating more than normal. Some women also experience changes in bowel movements, or small changes in their gastrointestinal tract with benign or cancerous cysts.

When ovarian cysts are painful, they are easier to spot, but this is rare. Significant symptoms can include:

  • Sore breasts
  • Weight gain
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Pain in the abdominal area, pelvis, the low back, and the thighs
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Painful intercourse and menstruation
  • Bleeding abnormalities
  • Most simple cysts are not cause for alarm and rarely develop into ovarian cancer. However, for women who have undergone menopause — typically between the ages of 50 and 70 — cysts are more likely to be ovarian cancer. A good rule of thumb is for anyone in that age group, or anyone with symptoms of an ovarian cyst that doesn’t go away, to be tested to determine if the cyst is cancerous. In menopausal women, these symptoms are not expected, so women experiencing them should consult their doctor.

    A number of tests can be performed to determine if the cyst is cancerous or benign.

Add a Comment2 Comments

EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

I recommed that with any cyst the entire ovary be removed by a GYN ONC surgeon! My doctor thought "it was just a cyst" but when she attempted to remove it, she spread the cancer and now i am dying. Regular gynecologists just don't think much about Ovarian cancer.. Very bad indeed!

October 5, 2009 - 5:48am
Diane Porter (reply to Anonymous)

Wow, Anon, what a terrible thing to have had happen to you. That's awful. For those who aren't sure what she means, there are special surgeons that are "gynecologic oncologist" surgeons. When you are diagnosed with ovarian cysts that need to be surgically removed, you may want to get a second opinion from a GYN ONC surgeon.

Of course not all cysts are cancerous. In fact, most are ultimately harmless, though they may cause pain and discomfort. But Anon makes a good point -- unless your gynecologist has special training in this area, she or he may miss something.

Here's our EmpowHer page on ovarian cysts:

http://www.empowher.com/media/reference/ovarian-cyst#definition

And here's the Mayo Clinic page on them:

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/ovarian-cysts/DS00129

Anon, my sympathies for what you are going through. We would very much like to hear more about your journey if you care to write about it.

October 6, 2009 - 8:15am
Image CAPTCHA
Enter the characters shown in the image.
By submitting this form, you agree to EmpowHER's terms of service and privacy policy

We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

Improved

1768 Health

Changed

669 Lives

Saved

532 Lives
3 lives impacted in the last 24 hrs Learn More

Take Our Featured Health Poll

Have you been diagnosed with ovarian cancer, or do you have a close friend or relative who has?:
View Results