I'm so grateful to everyone who's written about their experiences with dermoids. I've been reading and rereading this forum for several months - it's one of the only things that gives me comfort.
I wanted to ask for some advice. I'm in a tough place, caught between my terror of cancer and my terror of surgery, and I wanted to ask for some input from anyone who's been through this.
I'm 44 and have had clockwork-regular periods since I started menstruating at 14. I've always been healthy and energetic - I don't even get colds, though I've always had a sensitive stomach. In March I had an irregular period (late and longer than usual), so I went to the doctor. Pap was normal but she ordered an ultrasound that showed a c. 6 cm cyst on my right ovary, which is probably a dermoid. (I'd been to the ER two years ago with excruciating abdominal pain, but they only did an abdominal ultrasound and found nothing. In retrospect, I wonder if it was the cyst.) I was completely terrified, and over the past six months I've been living a nightmare of anxiety, but at least educating myself by reading a lot about dermoids, cysts, cancer, etc.
After they found the cyst I started experiencing intermittent pinching pains in my abdomen and generally feeling unwell. I'm often tired, I've gained weight, and my stomach sometimes poofs out like a balloon (returns to normal the next day - it seems to be related to certain foods). The pain is very real, but I can't tell if I'm feeling it because now I'm aware there's a cyst in there. I wasn't feeling anything before I learned of the cyst. I've been incredibly stressed by the whole experience, and I often tend towards anxiety, so I wouldn't be surprised if stress were causing these symptoms. But I also wonder if the cyst was asymptomatic before, but when it reached a certain size it caused the irregular period that led to my going to the doctor in the first place, and then, because it had reached that size, it started causing pain.
Because of my symptoms and because I've been so frightened, I had a pelvic MRI which also said it was most likely a dermoid; I asked for another ultrasound two months later which showed that the cyst hadn't changed or grown; and I had another ultrasound a few weeks ago that also showed no change. There is no free fluid detected. I've had blood tests and checkups that all look good.
My periods have been normal since the diagnosis, except this month I've had an irregular period again - a week late, then two weeks of brown spotting, then alternating heavy and light bleeding with some clots and mucus. I've seen three very well respected gynecologists and none of them is worried. They all think it's 'just' a dermoid cyst. One of them even showed me the ultrasound pictures and pointed out the regular border and the lines indicating hair within the cyst. They've all said there's no urgency but that they'd recommend laparoscopic surgery to remove it because of the risk of torsion/rupture and also because it's the only way to know for sure what type of cyst it is. They assume the irregular periods are simply the beginning of perimenopause. I alternate between taking comfort in what they say and terrifying myself with thinking they don't really know. There is no real history of ovarian or breast cancer in my family. (My mother's father's mother unfortunately died of ovarian cancer, but there has been no other cancer in my family that I know of.) I am married, don't take birth control pills or any other prescription drugs, but have never been pregnant.
I've scheduled and cancelled the surgery multiple times because I'm so scared - scared about the outcome and scared about having surgery. I've put it off six months already, but I know I won't ever rest easy if I don't know for sure. I know others have written about their anxiety. Can anyone help me ease my mind? Any encouragement to have the surgery, and any comments about the ultrasound/MRI/doctors' reports, would be so welcome. I've been going over all these things in my mind for so long and would love to hear what others have to say.