Does the incidence of ovarian cysts vary among age groups?

Updated: Dec 20, 2018
  • Author: Shannon M Grabosch, MD; Chief Editor: Nicole W Karjane, MD  more...
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Functional ovarian cysts can occur at any age (including in utero) but are much more common in women of reproductive age. They are rare after menopause. Luteal cysts occur after ovulation in reproductive-age women. Most benign neoplastic cysts occur during the reproductive years, but the age range is wide and they may occur in persons of any age.

The incidence of epithelial ovarian cystadenocarcinomas, sex cord stromal tumors, and mesenchymal tumors rises exponentially with age until the sixth decade of life, at which point the incidence plateaus.

Tumors of low malignant potential occur at a mean age of 44 years, with a span from adolescence to senescence. The average age is more than a decade less than that for invasive cystadenocarcinoma. Germ cell tumors are most common in adolescence and rarely occur in women older than 30 years.

In a child found to have a symptomatic abdominopelvic mass, the ovary is the most common site of origin. Although such masses are infrequent occurrences, the percentage due to malignant tumors is thought to be higher than for older age groups. The most common are germ cell tumors, followed by epithelial and granulosa cell tumors. Such tumors may be partially cystic.

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