Are Tumors on the Ovary Usually Cancerous?

Reviewed on 8/22/2022

Illustration of an ovarian tumor
Ovarian tumors do not always mean you have cancer. They most commonly develop in individuals of childbearing age. About half of those with irregular periods and about one-third of those who have regular periods may develop ovarian tumors.

Ovarian tumors are abnormal masses of tissue on or in an ovary. Tumors can be benign (not cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). 

Tumors on the ovary are usually not cancerous and most commonly develop in individuals of childbearing age. About half of people who have irregular periods and about one-third of those who have regular periods may develop ovarian tumors.

There are three main types of benign tumors on the ovary, based on where the abnormal cells originate:

  • Surface epithelial tumors 
    • Develops in the cells lining the surface of the ovary
    • The most common type of ovarian tumors
  • Germ cell tumors
    • Starts in the cells that develop into eggs
    • Most are benign, but sometimes can develop into cancer
    • Most common in younger individuals
    • When treated early, fertility can be preserved
  • Stromal tumors 
    • Originates in the part of the ovary that manufactures female reproductive hormones
    • Very rare 
    • When cancerous, considered a low-grade cancer

What Are Symptoms of Tumors on the Ovary?

Tumors on the ovary usually don’t cause symptoms. When symptoms of ovarian tumors occur, it’s often because the tumor grows large enough to cause pelvic or abdominal discomfort by pressing on nearby organs. When this happens, symptoms may include:

What Causes Tumors on the Ovary?

The causes of tumors on the ovary are not completely understood. Risk factors for developing ovarian tumors may include:

How Are Tumors on the Ovary Diagnosed?

Because symptoms of tumors on the ovary are rare, the tumors are usually detected during routine physical exams, such as a pelvic exam or Pap test

If a tumor on the ovary is suspected, testing may be done to rule out ovarian cancer, which may include: 

What Is the Treatment for Tumors on the Ovary?

Tumors on the ovary that are not cancerous (benign) may not need treatment. 

  • Ovarian tumors that don’t go away, are painful, or that grow may need to be treated surgically: 
  • Laparoscopy to remove the tumor
  • Laparotomy for larger tumors
  • Ovarian tumor debulking for a tumor that is cancerous (malignant)

QUESTION

Where does ovarian cancer occur? See Answer

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Reviewed on 8/22/2022
References
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Image source: iStock Images

https://cancer.coloradowomenshealth.com/non-cancerous/ovarian-tumors/index.html