Treatment for an ovarian cyst in menopause may depend on a range of factors, including the age and overall health of the woman. The size of the cyst and its shape play a role in determining the optimal treatment as well. Sometimes hormone treatments or watchful waiting is used. In many cases, however, doctors recommend surgery to remove the cyst to rule out the possibility of cancer. This is due to the fact that older, menopausal women have a higher risk of developing ovarian cancer than younger, pre-menopausal women.
When a woman develops a cyst or a mass that appears to be an ovarian cyst in menopause, a doctor typically uses ultrasounds to evaluate its size and shape. Blood tests, the patient’s medical history, and a physical examination may also be used in evaluating the cyst. In women who have not yet reached menopause, ovarian cysts are often less concerning and usually are related to the menstrual cycle. For these women, doctors may wait to see if the cysts shrink over the course of a few menstrual cycles; this is referred to as watchful waiting. Hormone therapy may be used as well to shrink a cyst in a pre-menopausal woman, but surgery is often preferred for women who have already reached menopause.
When a woman has a suspected ovarian cyst in menopause, many doctors agree that the safest course of action is removing the cyst. This is often accomplished using laparoscopic surgery, which is a minimally invasive type of surgical procedure. With this type of surgery, a surgeon usually makes small incisions and uses very small instruments to remove the mass from the woman’s ovary. He is usually guided in this process by a tiny video camera that is introduced through a small incision. In the event that the cyst is very large or the surgeon suspects it is cancerous, he may have to make a larger incision to remove the cyst.
The next step in the treatment of an ovarian cyst in menopause is the examination of the cyst to check for cancerous cells. This is often done during the same surgery that is used to remove the cyst. If the mass is found to be free of cancerous cells, the surgeon usually closes the incision and concludes the surgery. If, on the other hand, the mass is determined to be cancerous, the surgeon may remove the woman’s ovaries, uterus, and lymph nodes before concluding the operation.