Could a dermoid cyst be an ovarian cancer?

Hi everyone,

I've been really stressed out recently. This is making me go nuts. So I hope somebody can enlighten me on this one.

For the last three weeks I've been having this weird pulsating (ticking? Can't really describe it) pain in my left and right stomach so I went to the doctor and they couldn't identify the problem until they asked for a urine test which showed I had UTI. They also told me I might have stomach ulcer so I'm on Maalox and Omeprazole now.

But after a week on antibiotics my stomach pain on my left side started to become more pronounced (meds for ulcer not helping), there's a specific area where it hurts now (left side near the bellybutton). It hurt so bad that I decided to go to the hospital and ask for an ultrasound.

They found a 3.7 x 3.5 cyst on my RIGHT ovary. Which is weird cause my left side also hurts. But anyway, the doctor told me I have a dermoid cyst / teratoma and I've been reading about it - that it usually is benign but there are rare cases wherein it's actually malignant.

Well, I've been having weird leg pains recently, it hurts when I'm lying down, feels like I've been running all day - which I did not. I also feel easily tired and been having lots of gas - belching, farting, gas pain. I haven't been eating a lot lately and I'm not sure if it's cause I don't have appetite (since when I get hungry I eat) or because I get full easily but then again I've always had that feeling... I just want to stay in bed the whole day sometimes. I've read early symptoms of ovarian cancer and it's kind of scaring me.

Should I ask my doctor for a CA125 blood test?

We don't have history of ovarian cancer- just breast cancer and frankly, I don't know a lot of my relatives so I really can't tell. My mom has had 2 breast cysts and now she has ovarian myoma.

I'm 22 years old but I've read around here that people do get diagnosed even as early as 17.

What symptoms do you usually get if you have one? Should my having a dermoid cyst be less worrisome?
Here's a picture of the Ultrasound:

My stomach pains have stopped now just the ticking - like it's beating but the leg pains are still there as well as muscle pains. I've been sleeping a LOT too but after 2 hrs of being up I'm sleepy and tired again. Is that the cyst?

Edited May 18, 2009 at 9:19 pm

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Well, not to scare you or anything.... but my gyn originally thought I had a dermoid cyst. It was only after doing my CA-125 test, that red flags went up. I would insist on one.

DYI-- I have no family history of ovarian cancer.

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Ask the doctor for a CA125 and if it is elevated, a transvaginal ultrasound. Between us, I know a child who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at age 5.

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Well, I'm 20 and my doctor's found 28 plus cysts on both ovaries in April. The two offices that did that ultrasound and diagnosis claimed that it was polycystic ovarian syndrome, but I have severally heavy and painful periods so it can not be that. I have the digestive issues, and sharp abdominal and leg pains like you. I went to a pelvic pain specialists/gynecologist and they think endometriosis. Only, after the doctor examined me he said I'm not "vaginally sensitive enough" and paused and said it could be something else he's not sure. He offered me birth control pills or laproscopy. I've chosen the surgery. I just have this weird feeling that with the periods, leg and other pain, the digestive issues, and the cysts that I have cancer. Those are the same issue Gilda Radner had and I am sick of being told I'm too young.

I live at home and the 'rents are in denial; they want it to be nothing, they think I should take the birth control pills and get ready for junior year. The 'rents think I'm dwelling and it is nothing maybe just worse ibs than usual. I just have this bad feeling that there is something more to this. A person just does not get lots of clear cyst and possible endometriosis from no where.

Since I have small cysts I can't tell you anything since my research does not pertain to dermoid cysts.

I have a surgery consultation on Friday and will ask about biopsy, ct, mri, pet, and ca125. I just have to know and deal with it now, if I wait to the fall it could be worse and really effect school. The thing that upsets my folks is that I did the research about cysts and endo. and together they both raise infertility and cancer rates. I haven't mentioned the weird feeling I have since they aren't dealing with possible endo. well.

This feeling inspired to donate to and to buy a scarf fifty cent to see what I would look like. I think I can handle it, I just am going nuts with this not knowing. I wish I could have the surgery today, yesterday, last month.

I completely understand where you're coming from.

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Hello Haynes94,

What other symptoms did you have? Did you have a laparotomy? How big/small was your dermoid cyst?

Thanks for sharing with me that bit about your family history.

Zircons and acutee-2,

It's difficult for my parents to think about that possibility so when I told them about CA125, they actually got mad and told me I've been reading too much so they don't think I should get one or even need one. The anxiety it causes me is unbelievable. So I know how you feel acutee-2. Really difficult when your parents are closed-minded / in denial.

Well, as much as I don't want to think it's that, there's always a possibility and I want to rule it out. :(

They're saying they're just gonna do a histopathology. Is that the better route? I've read CA125 isn't really a telling test? But I think I'm gonna get that on my own since my parents aren't even open to it.

Thanks for sharing you all. It's really helpful to know I actually make sense and I'm not being a hypochondriac.

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Marielle, my cyst was about the size of a grapefruit. As far as other symptoms, the only one I had was ocassional abdominal pain. It was like a truck hit me, then gone just as fast.

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My gyno told me that I had a dermoid cyst, even after my CA 125 test results were 2274. I decided to get a second opinion and went to Memorial Sloan Kettering. The doctor there looked at the same test results and told me it was ovarian cancer until proven otherwise. Unfortunately he was right and I was stage IIIbe. It is important for you to get a second opinion. Hopefully your doctor is right it is only a dermoid cyst, but you need to be sure.

Good luck,

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Hello Katie,

I have a couple questions if you don't mind:

1. How big/small was the cyst?
2. What symptoms did you have?
3. How old were you when you were diagnosed?

I'm not sure if this helps but I scanned my US result so perhaps someone can tell me it's a normal dermoid cyst.... Here's the link:

I still have a week before seeing my OB GYN and it's been the longest week by far.


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I have to wait to Friday for my surgery consult, so I'm with you on the long week thing. I'm going into surgery not knowing whether I have endometriosis or cancer. With a doctor leaning towards cancer and the nagging feeling I have, I think it is the latter.

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Okay so I just saw a different OB GYN this time and she looked at my Ultrasound results very briefly (like couple seconds literally), read the report and told me there's nothing to worry about - that since it's just 3.7cm I don't have to worry about anything. She says it's unlikely to twist or do any harm and that I'm just imagining the pain. She told me to just take B Complex for my leg pains.

It's so confusing. Now I don't even know if I'm just imagining the pain!!!!! And the first doctor told me I need to get surgery soon!

The second doctor won't even tell me what kind of cyst it is. I'm very frustrated. Am I just making a big deal out of this? Am I just a hypochondriac? :(

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Hi --

A few thoughts:

The CA-125 test is normaly considered unreliable UNLESS you have already been diagnosed with OC. The reasoning is that there are so many reasons why someone might have an elevated CA-125. It does not seem unreasonable to me that you ask for one, however.

Is it an insurance issue that is creating the hesitancy to ask for one? Or have you asked and your doctor has just denied it?

Your cyst does not seem large enough to be causing your leg pain -- they are most likely two unrelated things.

Are you actually scheduled for the histopathology? If you are, that will be a more definitive test to see if it's cancer or not as they will actually be examining the specimen.

Ask for the CA-125, but know that the number could be hight just for the fact that you have a benign cyst. It certainly might add more impetus for further exploration if the number is high.

The chances of it actually being cancer are pretty low so take a deep breath and calm down and just continue taking the precautionary measures that you are.

-- Martha

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Hi Marielle,

I don't remember the exact dimensions but my cyst or cysts were large. One doctor said I had two and my surgeon told me he thought it was all one, I never asked after the surgery.
I do work at a research center and one of my scientists was trained as a pathologist. He told me that if I had dermoid cysts they would have been able to see teeth or hair on the CT scan because dermoid cysts are fertilized eggs that never go anywhere.
My general symptoms were lower back pain, fatigue and weight gain. I went to my gyno who told me I was fine and about 7 weeks later I had two episodes of intense abdominal pain and my regular doctor told me to get a CT scan. The pathology report said it should be considered cancer, but my gyno was sure it was only dermoid cysts. I was age 53 when I was diagnosed. I am a huge advocate of getting second opinions because I believe that is why I am doing so well.
I hope that everything turns out fine.
good luck

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I don't know if this is the right place for this posting. I want to start of be saying I admire all of you for your strength and courage.

I am a 35 year old mother of 3 beautiful girsl. I have had left ovarian pain for about a year and a half. It started only when I ovulated, lasted for a few days and then would disappear until the next month. Over the last 6 months the pain has increased from ovulation until I would get my period. Since my last period, the pain has NOT gone away. It is agonizing right now as I am once again ovulating. For months (and currently) the pain radiates down the front of my leg, stopping at my knee.

My periods have also been irregular since January, even causing me to think I might be pregnant. They are coming every 3 weeks, instead of the normal 5 for me, and are unusually light. I only need to use a tampon for 2 days and then nothing.

Since I've had this pain for the past month, one night I started pressing around my abdomen. When I'm lying on my right side there is a definite lump, about the size of a walnut, right were my ovary would be. I can feel deep inside my abdomen. (Something I can't feel on the other side.) Now that I'm ovulating, when I feel that area where the lump is, it is excruciating!

I am going to see a doctor. I have put this off way too long. (My inurance doesn't kick in until June 1.)

I'm just wondering if anyone else has experienced similar symptoms? Or, do you have any suggestions for questions to ask the doctor?

When researching about cysts and then ovarian cancer, I started to notice that many of the symptoms that women experience, I've been having. I just chalked it up to "normal" aging and stress. Like the bloating, diarrhea, feeling full quickly. Now I'm really starting to wonder if this is something more serious.

Again, I'm sorry if this is posting is inappropriate for this site. It's just after reading other postings everyone seemed so helpful and supportive. I thought I would put myself out there.

Thanks for your time and any info you can share.

God Bless.

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Hello klgg,

I'm praying it's just a functional cyst or a benign one. My pain is gone now though I still have to see another doctor since the other two told me two different things.

Let us know how it goes. For now, don't think it's anything yet. That really affects you. I've been looking SICK the whole week last week just thinking about it. So relax for now and think positive. At least you've made your first step by deciding to see a doctor. :)


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Marielle just beware that sometimes that pain will come back with your next cycle. It happened to me and it sucks, well my pain only dulled but still the whoosh of pain that comes over me ten days before each period sucks (pardon my French).

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My situation is the same but it's only been two months for me (though I have lots of stress right now so it could be intensifying things). I also have urinating issues but no infections. I'm a twenty year old so I'm at least on summer break, but I'm a Girl Scout leader so I'm doing that and running an event at the end of June so I'm still busy. Being busy distracts me from the pain but I go to bend over to pick up a pile of books and instead I double over in pain.

I have a binder of information and doctor notes I requested copies of. I made a quick type up of my symptoms for my first page.

Have you been told this yet, "Yeah, I feel something hard, but it just must be a bowel obstruction take miralax everyday with fiber, and get an enema and you'll be fine" then she said, "your periods are just crappy so I'm putting you on bcp and prespcrition strength ibuprofen for the next three months?"

My pelvic pain surgical specialist said that to me on Friday at my surgical consult and she will not do my surgeon until I have done that.

Good luck. I hope it is going better for you since you have children to care for now.


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They haven't confirmed it's a cyst yet? That's always the hard part - they don't understand the pain! I mean if there's a way I can actually make them feel it then perhaps they'll listen.

Weren't you supposed to go see the doctor a couple days ago? How was that?

For now I've given up on seeing doctors. Guess I'll just go when the pain's unbearable. All the unnecessary stress!!!

I hope we all get through this with no surgeries or anything. :|


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Well, They know I have those cysts on my ovaries, and they looked "clear/normal/functional", but they have felt a lump vaginal and two, one above each ovary, all of which are painful to the touch and possibly what is causing this constant pain.

The quote of a doctor in my previous post is what happened during an examine on Friday... I was told that while she had her finger in me pushing on that painful lump, oh and to top it she called my vagina a "whoee," Why I ask, why would a doctor do that, what does she think, I'm twenty so the word vagina makes me uncomfortable, because what really makes me uncomfortable is a gynecology with their finger in me, causing pain, that went to medical school and still can't use the word vagina!!!

I wanted the surgery to confirm that it was endometriosis and (even though everyone says I'm too young) to check for cancer, but that doctor was my last hope for that surgery, now I have to wait three months before the only specialist in the state, technically within a 250 mile radius (that my insurance will cover), will operate.

I'm seeing my GP on Thursday, which I had actually forgotten about until I cleaned my wallet today! I just want him to feel the lumps send me for blood work, a CT, a MRI, a PET scan, just do something to create a baseline, a marker, or simply just to give me peace of mind...I mean jeez I will be happy to pay my co-pay if they would just hurry up and check all ready because my symptoms suck and the pain is just getting worse.

I don't think that you should take a break from doctors but perhaps search for a specialist or a gynecological oncologist that could treat you better, sooner, faster, or simply treat you with the respect you deserve.

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My daughter was diagoised at 21 with stage 3C ovarian cancer.

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Dear Cheryl,

I'm sorry to hear about Meghan. :| I went to her website she's very strong and smart! It's nice you're helping other women out by spreading her story.

I have a question though regarding her cyst, how small or big was it? Did she have any other symptoms?

It's just really frustrating when doctors seem to shut the idea out that it could be cancer just because we're in our 20s.

Looking forward to hearing from you again.


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Jillian and Marielle,

Thank you both for your kind words and encouragement. Unfortunately, the past 2 days have been hell for me. The pain is definitley getting worse as time goes by. I was curled up in bed all afternoon with the heating pad and taking a combination on Tylenol and Motrin. It did absolutely nothing! (Anyone know of any good OTC pain relief?)

When I lay flat the pain gets worse. When I walk the pain shoots down the front of my legs. When I sit, it's constant discomfort. I've never felt anything like this before. At least when I was in labor I knew there was an end. With this, it just never seems to go away.

I'm really nervous to go see the doctor for a multitude of reasons. To find out what this is. To be shut down and told it's nothing. The long road ahead if this actually is something.

Does anyone know if there is a link (somehow) between gallstones and ovarian cancer? I've been reading some of the stories posted and I've come across it a few times. Is it purely coincidental? The reason I ask is because I had my gall bladder removed back in '97 due to gallstones. Just wondering....

Jillian, I'm sorry to hear you are having so many problems with the doctors - a HUGE fear of mine. I truly believe that 95% of them think that when they graduate med school they become GOD - or a version of one. They can't see inside our bodies without the proper testing and I am horrified they even have the nerve to "poo-poo" it and tell you it's nothing. I'll pray for you that it is "nothing" and that you can get the pain relief you need.

What I don't understand is that ovarian cancer is rare in young women, but it does happen. I guess I'm a kind of "the glass is half empty" type of personality. But, honestly, it's only been through my experiences. And since it does happen, it obviously has to happen to someone. Who's to say we can't be one of them. (I pray to God we're NOT!!)

My father died at 52 from leukemia. When he was diagnosed they told him he was "young" enough to fight and that he would be okay. Eight months later he died on his 52nd birthday. My brother-in-law was recently diagnosed with esophogeal (sp?) cancer. He's 41. "Too young" according to the text books. And the icing on this lovely cake is my very healthy appearing 6 month old nephew was diagnosed with 3 brain tumors a week and a half ago. Something he was born with they said. There are other instances of cancer in my family as well.

I guess what I'm trying to say is we all have to be REAL and listen to our own bodies and be our own advocates. A VERY hard lesson that has taken me my whole life to learn.

If your doctors aren't listening to you, go find someone who will (and I know you are trying to do that.) I know that is MUCH easier said that done. While you wait to even get an appointment and deal with insurance companies, the pain is still there and keeps on persisting.

I have learned to take each day as it comes. That's all my mind can handle these days. I can't think about next week because I don't know how I will feel then. All I can worry about is today and making it the best possible day for me and my girls.

Thanks again for all your support,

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