Prevalence, incidence, and natural history of simple ovarian cysts among women >55 years old in a large cancer screening trial


Volume 202, Issue 4, Pages 373.e1-373.e9 (April 2010)

Presented in abstract form at the Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Chicago, IL, May 31-June 3, 2008.
Robert T. Greenlee, PhD, MPHa, Bruce Kessel, MDb, Craig R. Williams, BSc, Thomas L. Riley, BSc, Lawrence R. Ragard, MDd, Patricia Hartge, ScDe, Saundra S. Buys, MDf, Edward E. Partridge, MDg, Douglas J. Reding, MD, MPHh

Received 13 July 2009; received in revised form 18 September 2009; accepted 18 November 2009. published online 25 January 2010.


The purpose of this study was to measure the occurrence and natural history of simple ovarian cysts in a cohort of older women.

Study Design

Simple cysts were ascertained among a cohort of 15,735 women from the intervention arm of the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial through 4 years of transvaginal ultrasound screening.


Simple cysts were seen in 14% of women the first time that their ovaries were visualized. The 1-year incidence of new simple cysts was 8%. Among ovaries with 1 simple cyst at the first screen, 54% retained 1 simple cyst, and 32% had no cyst 1 year later. Simple cysts did not increase risk of subsequent invasive ovarian cancer.


Simple ovarian cysts are fairly common among postmenopausal women, and most cysts appear stable or resolve by the next annual examination. These findings support recent recommendations to follow unilocular simple cysts in postmenopausal women without intervention.



Author: Leslie Carol Botha

Author, publisher, radio talk show host and internationally recognized expert on women's hormone cycles. Social/political activist on Gardasil the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls. Co-author of "Understanding Your Mood, Mind and Hormone Cycle." Honorary advisory board member for the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.