Ovarian Swellings and Screening for Ovarian Cancer
Ovarian cysts are very common. Each month during the fertile years, a small cyst grows in the ovaries, reaching about 2.5cm in size and breaks in the middle of the cycle to release a follicle. Sometimes, instead of breaking, the cyst can grow and cause noticeable oedema and pain. These “functional cysts” are the most common cysts in the ovaries. In addition to functional cysts, the ovaries may also contain other benign cysts, which can occur before or/and after menopause. Large benign cysts, which cause symptoms, may require surgical removal. Many small benign cysts, can be detected randomly on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CT), performed to investigate various, non-gynaecological problems. Cancer cysts are extremely rare, but they can cause serious health problems and should be removed as soon as the diagnosis is confirmed. An accurate diagnosis of the nature of an ovarian cyst is important in planning the appropriate treatment. Benign cysts that do not cause symptoms may not require treatment, while those that cause pain may be removed by laparoscopic surgery. Cancer cysts may require open surgery.
The ability of an ultrasound examination to distinguish between different types of ovarian cysts depends largely on the skills and experience of the examiner-physician. Our Centre is at the forefront of developments in the diagnosis of ovarian cancer and we can distinguish benign from malignant ovarian cysts in most cases by conducting a systematic and detailed analysis of ovarian morphology. Our approach to the diagnosis of ovarian cysts does not require blood tests to measure cancer markers. By this way, delays are avoided and the overall cost of screening is reduced considerably.
Some women with a family history of ovarian or breast cancer are at increased risk of developing cancer. We are able to offer them regular checkups to make sure their ovaries are normal. Women, who suffered from ovarian or breast cancer in the past and are at increased risk of developing cancer, again, are also welcome in our Centre.