Simple Cysts Found by Ultrasound Don’t Require Action

(November 16, 2018) JAMA Internal Medicine recently published an eleven year study of over 72,000 women that found having a simple ovarian cyst does not increase one’s risk of ovarian cancer. The incidence of ovarian cancer in all age groups in the study was similar to women with normal ovaries.

While simple cysts do not increase risk, the study did find, however, that a complex cyst, a solid mass, or a complex cyst with ascites, are all associated with an increased risk of ovarian cancer. For those below the age of 50, a complex cyst increased the risk by over eight times, whereas women over 50 years of age had slightly less than eight times the likelihood. Those below the age of 50 with a complex cyst and ascites were about eight times more likely and those above 50 were 74 times the risk. Having a solid mass under the age of 50 increased your risk by 8 and being over 50 did so by 10 times.

Although the study concludes that simple cysts are safe to be ignored, Dr. Deborah Levine of Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center warned that the ultrasound imaging needs to be of good quality in order to diagnose a simple cyst. “With confident diagnosis of simple cysts, clinicians can be reassured that the likelihood of cancer is similar to that of patient without cysts, and management can be based on patient symptoms rather than on benign incidental pelvic ultrasonographic finding.”