How common are ovarian cysts in the US?

Updated: Dec 20, 2018
  • Author: Shannon M Grabosch, MD; Chief Editor: Nicole W Karjane, MD  more...
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Ovarian cysts are found on transvaginal sonograms in nearly all premenopausal women and in up to 18% of postmenopausal women (women develop one or more Graafian follicles each menstrual cycle, which appear as cysts on imaging). [1, 5, 19] Most of these cysts are functional in nature and benign. Mature cystic teratomas, or dermoids, represent more than 10% of all ovarian neoplasms. Ovarian cysts are the most common fetal and infant tumor, with a prevalence exceeding 30%. [20]

The incidence of ovarian carcinoma is approximately 15 cases per 100,000 women per year. In the United States, ovarian carcinomas are diagnosed in more than 21,000 women annually, causing an estimated 14,600 deaths. [21] Most malignant ovarian tumors are epithelial ovarian cystadenocarcinomas.

Tumors of low malignant potential make up approximately 20% of malignant ovarian tumors, whereas less than 5% are malignant germ cell tumors, and approximately 2% are granulosa cell tumors. [22]

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