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
- 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:
- Imaging tests
- Blood tests
- CA-125 test
- Alpha-fetoprotein (AFP)
- Lactate dehydrogenase (LDH)
- Human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG)
- Estrogen and testosterone
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)
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