An ovarian cyst, also called a pelvic mass, is a sac filled with fluid. Ovarian cysts may grow in one or both your ovaries.
Sometimes, these cysts are related to ovarian cancer. Most the time, however, they are harmless and common in your childbearing years. They occur normally during your menstrual cycle.
Types of Cysts
There are several different kinds of cysts and most are not cancerous.
The most common type of cysts are functional cysts. If they are present in post-menopausal women, they may increase your risk for cancer, but for most women, they are benign.
There are two types of functional ovarian cysts: follicle and corpus luteum.
A follicle cyst forms when an egg fails to break through its pouch. Follicle cysts disappear on their own within three months.
A corpus luteum cyst develops when an egg pouch closes after releasing an egg and fluid collects inside. These cysts usually resolve on their own quickly within a few weeks’ time.
For some women, nonfunctional cysts are common and their ovaries make lots of small cysts. The result is a condition called polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).
PCOS increases your risk for certain types of cancer, including endometrial, breast cancer, and ovarian cancer. One study out of the Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina, finds the risk for ovarian cancer is doubled in women with PCOS.