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Ovarian Cyst / Tumor
An ovarian cyst is a sac filled with liquid or semi-liquid material arising in an ovary. The number of diagnoses of ovarian cysts has increased with the widespread implementation of regular physical examinations and ultrasound technology. The finding of an ovarian cyst causes considerable anxiety for women because of the fear of malignancy, but the vast majority of ovarian cysts are benign.
Ovarian cysts arising in the normal process of ovulation are called functional cysts and are always benign. They may be follicular and luteal, sometimes called theca-lutein cysts. These cysts can be stimulated by gonadotropins, including follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG).
Multiple functional cysts can occur as a result of excessive gonadotropin stimulation or sensitivity.
Other types of cysts include:
• Polycystic ovaries. In polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), the follicles in which the eggs normally mature fail to open and cysts form.
• Endometriomas. In women with endometriosis, tissue from the lining of the uterus grows in other areas of the body. This includes the ovaries. Endometriosis can be very painful and can affect fertility.
• Cystadenomas. These cysts form out of cells on the surface of the ovary. They are often fluid-filled.
• Dermoid cysts. This type of cyst contains tissue similar to that in other parts of the body. That includes skin, hair, and teeth.
Neoplastic cysts arise by inappropriate overgrowth of cells within the ovary and may be malignant or benign. Malignant neoplasms may arise from all ovarian cell types and tissues. By far, the most frequent are those arising from the surface epithelium (mesothelium), and most of these are partially cystic lesions. The benign counterparts of these cancers are serous and mucinous cystadenomas. Other malignant ovarian tumors may contain cystic areas, and these include granulosa cell tumors from sex cord stromal cells and germ cell tumors from primordial germ cells.
What causes ovarian tumors?
Tumors can form in the ovaries, just as they form in other parts of the body. If tumors are non-cancerous, they are said to be benign. If they are cancerous, they are called malignant. There are three types of ovarian tumors:
• Epithelial cell tumors start from the cells on the surface of the ovaries. These are the most common type of ovarian tumors.
• Germ cell tumors start in the cells that produce the eggs. They can either be benign or cancerous. Most are benign.
• Stromal tumors originate in the cells that produce female hormones.
Doctors aren’t sure what causes ovarian cancer. They have identified, though, several risk factors, including:
• age — specifically women who have gone through menopause
• not having children or not breastfeeding (however, using birth control pills seems to lower the risk)
• fertility drugs (such as Clomid)
• hormone replacement therapy
• family or personal history of ovarian, breast, or colorectal cancer (having the BRCA gene can increase the risk)