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Did you know?

Dermoid cysts are bizzarre tumours containing skin and other associated tissue, such as hair and skin glands and sebaceous material. 

Dermoid cysts slowly grow through the child-bearing years. The average is 30. A dermoid cyst will not go away without treatment. There is usually no urgency about treating a dermoid. They very rarely cause symptoms. They can be associated with twisting of the ovary when the blood supply to the ovary is cut off. This causes intense pain and is sometimes the way dermoid cysts are discovered. If this happens it is an emergency that needs to be treated immediately.

Importance of expert diagnosis through ultrasound 

Dermoid cysts are usually identified by an ultrasound scan. They are easily confused with haemorrhagic cysts which go will resolve spontaneously. Ultrasound scans are often incorrectly interpreted, because many people doing scans don’t have enough experience and expertise. An expert ultrasound scan will often give a very different diagnosis. Dermoid cysts do not release tumour markers, so there is no blood test for them. A repeat ultrasound scan a few weeks later will help differentiate a dermoid cyst from a haemorrhagic cyst as the latter will often resolve by themselves.

A second opinion with an expert performing the ultrasound scan is important to make sure of the diagnosis

Treatment of a dermoid cyst

Benign dermoid cysts in young women should be treated by removal of the cyst only and not by oophorectomy. Removal of the whole ovary is not necessary. The cyst can be carefully separated from the rest of the ovary and the ovary then recovers. Removal of the dermoid cyst can usually be done by keyhole surgery.

Removal of a dermoid cyst is not an urgent operation. If a dermoid cyst is very small, the risks of complications discussed below are very low. The cyst may be managed conservatively, and tracked with a repeat ultrasound scan after several months.

Key information about Dermoid cysts

  • They are almost always benign

  • They are easily confused on ultrasound with haemorrhagic cysts

  • Important to get a second opinion on the ultrasound

  • Develop from eggs and have the potential to form any tissue in the body.

  • May occur at any age, but usually in the child bearing years

  • One in 500 dermoid cysts undergo a cancerous change

  • Cancerous form of dermoid is called an immature teratoma

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