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A 23-year-old female asked:

Can a doctor tell from a pelvic ultrasound if an ovarian cyst is cancerous or benign? or do they all look alike and need further tests?

2 doctor answers3 doctors weighed in
Dr. Michael Gabor
Diagnostic Radiology 33 years experience
It depends: Certain features make it highly likely that a cystic lesion is benign(e.g. a small "simple cyst"), and others make it more likely to be malignant. There is significant overlap between benign and malignant features, so at times it is impossible to tell. Other times the appearance is so characteristic that benignity/malignancy can be predicted fairly reliably. Age and other findings also factor in
Dr. Ken Levin
Radiology 44 years experience
Sometimes: Ovarian cysts are common and the majority of them are benign. A small simple cyst in a menstruating woman is almost undoubtedly benign. More complex cysts may be benign or malignant, and follow-up is necessary to see what happens. (There were guidelines published in Radiology magazine about 4-5 years ago.)

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Last updated Sep 22, 2019

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