Learning About Ovarian Cysts
- Justin Bieber’s wife, Hailey Rhode Baldwin, has previously struggled with ovarian cysts. But now, Hailey has a cyst the “size of an apple” on her ovary, which has left her with some serious bloating on her lower abdomen.
- According to the Ovarian Cancer Research Alliance (OCRA), ovarian cysts like the one Hailey has — which are common for women with regular menstrual cycles — are fluid-filled as opposed to ovarian tumors which are solid masses.
- These types of cysts, which can go away naturally or be removed through surgery, may only cause symptoms when they become large enough to feel, twist, or rupture.
Ovarian cysts are something the 26-year-old has struggled with before. But now, Hailey has a cyst the “size of an apple” on her ovary, which has left her with some serious bloating on her lower abdomen.Read More
“Not a baby,” she wrote, seemingly to shut down any pregnancy rumors that may have been circulating.
Hailey, who has been married to Justin for four years, previously suffered “stroke-like symptoms” from a blood clot in her brain. The shocking health scare, which Hailey described as “one of the scariest moments” of her life on Instagram, took place in March 2022.
Following the incident, Hailey remains on medicine to thin her blood and aspirin.
Months later, her 28-year-old husband Justin also dealt with a serious health issue. He explained in an Instagram video, “I wanted to update you guys on what’s been going on. Obviously, as you can probably see from my face, I have this syndrome called Ramsay Hunt syndrome [RHS], and it is from this virus that attacks the nerve in my ear and my facial nerves and has caused my face to have paralysis.
“I’m gonna get better and I’m doing all these facial exercises to get my face back to normal and it will go back to normal. It’s just time,” he added.
Despite their health struggles, the pair have been enjoying life and recently celebrated Hailey turning 26 on November 22. The famed couple traveled to Tokyo, Japan, with some of their friends for Hailey’s birthday.
What are Ovarian Cysts?
According to the Ovarian Cancer Research Alliance (OCRA), ovarian cysts like the one Hailey has — which are common for women with regular menstrual cycles — are fluid-filled as opposed to ovarian tumors which are solid masses.
“Most ovarian cysts are not harmful, don’t cause symptoms and are not indicative of risk for future ovarian cancer, though some complex ovarian cysts may raise the risk,” the OCRA explains. “Ovarian cysts are common in women with regular menstrual cycles, and less common in post-menopausal women. Approximately 8% of pre-menopausal women develop large ovarian cysts that require treatment.”
These types of cysts, which can go away naturally or be removed through surgery, may only cause symptoms when they become large enough to feel, twist, or rupture.
Symptoms of ovarian cysts can include: abdominal pain or ache, bloating, pain during intercourse, facial or body hair growth, menstrual changes, and frequent urination.
Emergency surgery is needed in rare instances when a cyst has ruptured, causing intense pain in the abdomen, fever, and nausea.
“Some women have surgery to remove cysts (called cystectomy), and only a small percentage of these cysts are cancerous. Surgery may be used to rule out ovarian cancer, confirm the diagnosis of an ovarian cyst, or remove a cyst that is causing symptoms and/or is very large,” OCRA adds.
“It may be utilized if an ovarian mass that has been watched through ultrasound for several months does not go away; if there are masses on both ovaries; if an ovarian mass is present and you have never had a period, have gone through menopause, or use birth control pills (excepting low-dose progestin-only pills or if you have missed a pill, which would make an ovulation-related functional cyst more likely), or if the cyst is causing pain.”
Ovarian Cysts or Cancer? How to Tell The Difference
Benign ovarian cysts — which commonly develop during a woman’s menstrual cycle — can sometimes be hard to differentiate from ovarian cancer. “We know that women, during the course of their lives, have a lot of ovarian cysts,” says Dr. Colleen McCormick of Compass Oncology.
“Most of the time, they’re benign, but unfortunately, we don’t have a way of telling whether a cyst is benign or cancerous,” Dr. McCormick explains.
According to Dr. McCormick, the best available tools that doctors have for assessing ovarian cancer risk are:
- Family history
- Symptom evaluation
Ovarian Cancer Overview
Ovarian cancer has been called the “cancer that whispers,” because women often don’t experience symptoms until their cancer has already reached its late stages. The symptoms that do appear at first are hard to identify as cancer. This subtlety of symptoms makes it essential for women to know the warning signs, and report them to their doctor, SurvivorNet’s experts warn.
The term ovarian cancer refers to a number of different tumors that grow in the ovary. The ovaries produce the sex hormone, estrogen, as well as eggs. Every woman has two ovaries, one on either side of her uterus. The fallopian tube picks up the egg from the ovary and carries it to the uterus for fertilization.
Many ovarian cancers actually begin in the fallopian tubes. A few cancerous cells first grow on the fallopian tubes and then, as the fallopian tubes brush over the ovary, these cells stick to the ovaries and eventually grow to form a tumor.
There isn’t just one ovarian cancer; there are many different types that occur at different stages of life. In fact, researchers have identified over 30 types, but these three are the most common:
- Epithelial. About 90% of ovarian cancers are epithelial, which means the cancer cells are located on the outer layer of the ovary. Most epithelial tumors are not cancerous, but when they are cancerous, they can spread before they’re detected.
- Stromal. This rare type of tumor forms in the connective tissue that holds the ovary together and produces estrogen and progesterone.
- Germ cell. These tumors, which develop in the cells that produce the eggs, are more likely to affect a single ovary, rather than both ovaries. When a teen or young woman is diagnosed with ovarian cancer, it’s usually the germ cell type. The good news is that most women with these types of ovarian cancers can be cured.
Signs of Ovarian Cancer
In regards to ovarian cancer’s hard-to-detect symptoms, Dr. Beth Karlan, a gynecologic oncologist at UCLA Medical Center, previously explained in an interview, “What we’ve found from multiple studies, it’s this constellation of symptoms.”
“If that’s really happening and you’re experiencing it every day, and they seem to be crescendo-ing, getting worse, even if that goes on for only two weeks, you should call your doctor.”
Ovarian cancer symptoms may include:
- Feeling full earlier/decrease in appetite
- Feeling bloated
- Changes in bowel habits
- Pain in the pelvis
- Urinary symptoms, such as an urgent need to go
- Extreme fatigue
- Abdominal swelling
- Pain during sex
Contributing: SurvivorNet Staff