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The Difference Between Ovarian Cancer and Ovarian Cysts

Updated on June 18, 2017

Diagram Of Female Pelvis

Diagram of the Pelvic region
Diagram of the Pelvic region | Source

About Ovarian Cysts

Ovarian cyst(s) are sacs filled with fluid that forms within or on the ovary. There are quite a few different types of ovarian cysts, but I will go over a few of them with you. These are functional types of cysts.

  1. Functional

  2. Follicular

  3. Corpus Luteum

An ovarian cyst is a fluid-filled sac (follicle) that contains a maturing egg; it forms on the ovary's surface, then disappears not long after it releases the egg. If a mature egg is not released or if the sac reseals after the egg is released, the sac can swell up with fluid, forming a functional ovarian cyst. The most people susceptible to getting ovarian cysts are women:

  • Are between the ages of 20 and 35.
  • Smoke. Smokers are twice as likely to have ovarian cysts as nonsmokers.
  • Are being treated for infertility with medications such as clomiphene citrate (for example, Clomid or Serophene).
  • Have endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), or bulimia.

What is a Functional Cyst

The functional ovarian cyst is usually one that forms during a menstrual cycle. Functional cysts are different than tumors as they normally disappear and don't normally cause any problems unless they get too large in which they can twist, bleed and rupture. It's very painful if this happens. The functional cyst is a sac that forms during ovulation and holds a maturing egg. Normally, when an egg is released, then the cyst goes away. However; if the egg doesn't release, then the sac can fill up with fluid and swell. The Luteum cysts is the one that may rupture. Most of these cysts are harmless unless it gets too large as you just read up above.

Diagram Showing Ovaries

 Diagram of the uterus and cysts and cancer
Diagram of the uterus and cysts and cancer

What causes functional cysts?

Ovarian Functional cysts form because of the way a women releases the egg in the ovary. The one cyst is called a follicular; when the egg Does NOT release, and the other is the luteal cyst; when the egg DOES release, but closes up and fills up with fluid again.

What's The Treatment of Functional Cysts?

Most functional cysts go away on their own. If a large cyst starts to give you problems such as pain or bleeding, it can be removed with surgery.

Video Below talking more about Ovarian cancer

Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer

The signs of ovarian cancer vary and sometimes it is hard to distinguish between symptoms of cysts or something else, but here are some signs you can watch out for:

  • Bloating
  • Nausea or gas and constipation problems

  • Vaginal bleeding when you are not having your period

  • Pain or aching in the middle of your abdomen

  • Delay in your menstrual cycle

  • Severe pain with vomiting and/or nausea

  • Pain during or after sexual intercourse

I am not a medical Dr. - If you do get severe pain with vomiting and nausea, the information I get this from says for you to go the Dr. right away as it may be a ruptured cyst. Ovarian cancer remember is different than Ovarian Cysts. Please review the symptoms and warning signs of Ovarian Cancer below. It may save your life.

What's the treatment of Ovarian Cancer?

The treatment of ovarian cancer depends on the staging of the cancer. It depends on how far it has spread. There are 4 stages, but several sub-categories of each stage, just as in Cervical Cancer. The most desired treatment is of course, surgery to remove the cancer, the ovary or possibly more. Then they may consider chemo and/or radiation, depending again, on how far the cancer has spread.

Ovarian cancer and ovarian cysts are different from one another. Ovarian cysts can be found in ovarian cancer, but they usually harmless unless they get big enough to cause a problem.

Uterine Cancer

My mother-in-law's story can be found here "Uterine Cancer Story." She started off with ovarian cancer that spread to the ovaries. Please finish this article and then you can go to that story.

Informational Video on Cervical Cancer


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    • weezyschannel profile image

      Lisa 3 years ago from Central USA

      Thank you!

    • jtrader profile image

      jtrader 3 years ago

      Thanks for sharing the warning signs. Voted up and useful!

    • weezyschannel profile image

      Lisa 4 years ago from Central USA

      What does your doctor say about it? I would contact the doctor as I'm not a doctor, but I do know you should probably go see one regarding this. If you have, what did they say?

    • profile image

      Blaze 4 years ago

      I have a cyct on left overy that's growing n pulling my overy down to my vag area and it's causing pressure plus I'm 28 weeks pregnant n it's been there for year what do I do

    • weezyschannel profile image

      Lisa 5 years ago from Central USA

      Thanks Barb. I basically wrote this for information to help others. I guess I could have put some more detail in, but if I can help anyone with a little bit of information, then I'm happy.

    • profile image

      barbara55 5 years ago

      i thought i was going to get more information i already heard this from my doctor and the literature he gave me but it is useful for someone that haven't received as much info. thanks barb

    • weezyschannel profile image

      Lisa 6 years ago from Central USA

      Thanks again Deborah. She actually hasn't even had the surgery yet! She failed her stress test, so they had to cancel. I have so many more hubs I would love to write on about people I know with health problems. I am starting on them, it's just there are so many! It's so sad anymore.

    • DeborahNeyens profile image

      Deborah Neyens 6 years ago from Iowa

      I hope your mother-in-law is doing okay. Thanks for providing this information.

    • weezyschannel profile image

      Lisa 6 years ago from Central USA

      Thank you very much. I have some updating to do on this hub, but I wanted to start it. I have a family member going through this right now.

    • mljdgulley354 profile image

      mljdgulley354 6 years ago

      Useful and interesting.