Current diagnosis and management of ovarian cysts

Clin Exp Obstet Gynecol. 2014;41(6):609-12.


The epidemiology of ovarian cysts is unclear due to the lack of consistent reporting and a high likelihood of spontaneous resolution. In the USA, postmenopausal women have an ovarian cyst incidence of 18% over a 15-year period. Worldwide, about 7% of women have an ovarian cyst at some point in their lives. In Europe, a large screening trial revealed a 21.2% incidence of ovarian cysts among healthy postmenopausal women. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) stated that simple cysts found on ultrasound may be safely followed without intervention, even in postmenopausal women. These cysts are not likely cancer precursors, nor markers of increased risk, and can be managed conservatively. Simple ovarian cysts appear to be stable or resolve by the next annual examination. These findings support recent recommendations to follow unilocular simple cysts in postmenopausal women without intervention. For those patients, ovarian cancer screening and follow up include a CA-125 blood test and transvaginal ultrasonography (TVU) at baseline, an annual TVU for three additional years, and annual CA-125 tests for five years beyond baseline. The TVU screening examination is considered positive (abnormal and suspicious for ovarian cancer) when findings included: 1) ovarian volume greater than 10 cubic cm; 2) cyst volume greater than ten cubic cm; 3) any solid area or papillary projection extending into the cavity of a cystic ovarian tumor of any size; or, 4) any mixed (solid/cystic) component within a cystic ovarian tumor. Women with positive screening examinations are referred to gynecologic oncology unit for follow-up investigation. Diagnostic consideration and surgical management of ovarian cysts are discussed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • CA-125 Antigen / blood
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Laparoscopy
  • Ovarian Cysts / diagnosis
  • Ovarian Cysts / surgery*
  • Robotic Surgical Procedures


  • CA-125 Antigen