Ovarian Cysts: 'Watchful Waiting' or Surgery?

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Women with non-cancerous (benign) ovarian cysts that don’t cause symptoms may not require surgery to remove them, suggests a two-year, international study conducted by researchers from a number of institutions. The research involved nearly 2,000 women in 10 different countries, including the United Kingdom, Belgium, Sweden, and Italy.

The women in the study were diagnosed with benign ovarian cysts — fluid-filled sacs that form on the ovary and are relatively common. Surgical removal is the recommended treatment for cancerous ovarian tumors and is often recommended for benign ovarian cysts as well, due to a perceived risk of twisting of the ovary or bursting of the cyst. But “watchful waiting,” in which the size and appearance of non-cancerous cysts are monitored with regular ultrasound scans, may be an option instead of surgery.

Twenty percent of the women in this study had cysts that disappeared on their own and 16 percent had surgery to remove them. In those who chose watchful waiting, 80 percent didn’t need intervention. Twelve of the women in the study were later diagnosed with ovarian cancer (0.4 percent). The risk of ovarian rupture was also 0.4 percent, according to the researchers, and the risk of cyst rupture was just 0.2 percent.

Sourced from: The Lancet Oncology