An ovarian cyst is any collection of fluid, surrounded by a very thin wall, within an ovary. Any ovarian follicle that is larger than about two centimeters is termed an ovarian cyst. An ovarian cyst can be as small as a pea, or larger than an orange.
Most ovarian cysts are functional in nature and harmless (benign).
Ovarian cysts affect women of all ages. They occur most often, however, during a woman’s childbearing years.
Some ovarian cysts cause problems, such as bleeding and pain. Surgery may be required to remove cysts larger than 5 centimeters in diameter.
When an ovarian growth or cyst needs to be closely looked at, a surgeon can do so through a small incision using laparoscopy or through a larger abdominal incision (laparotomy). Either type of surgery can be used to diagnose problems such as ovarian cysts, adhesions, fibroids, and pelvic infection. But if there is any concern about cancer, you may have a laparotomy. It gives the best view of the abdominal organs and the female pelvic organs . Then, if the doctor finds ovarian cancer, he or she can safely remove it.
During surgery, a noncancerous cyst that is causing symptoms can be removed (cystectomy), leaving the ovary intact. In some cases, the entire ovary or both ovaries are removed, particularly when cancer is found.