Ovarian cysts in postmenopausal women are more common than was thought and most do not become malignant.

So, if they are detected, what should you do? One group of researchers believes the answer is to do nothing for the first six months.

They looked at the technique of needle aspiration compared with mere observation in a group of 278 women, who were all believed to have benign cysts. Surprisingly, they found that the cysts cleared up to the same extent in both groups. In other words, cysts have a tendency to clear up on their own within six months.

The clear up rate was higher among younger women. After that, perhaps a more aggressive approach is required, they suggest.

Their view is not shared by specialists at the Hospital Tenon in Paris, who believe that a “wait and see” policy in postmenopausal women may be dangerous.

!ABMJ, 1996; 313: 1110-3.

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