A benign ovarian tumor is a noncancerous growth on or inside an ovary. It is a solid mass and not a cyst filled with fluid. It is called benign because the abnormal cells in the growth do not spread to other parts of the body.
The two ovaries are part of the female reproductive system. They produce eggs and the female hormones estrogen and progesterone.
The causes of benign ovarian tumors are not well understood. Different types of tumors can have different causes. In many cases, a tumor may have begun to develop months before you were born.
Symptoms depend on the size, location, and type of tumor. Possible symptoms are:
Some tumors do not cause any symptoms. They may not be detected until you have a regular checkup with your healthcare provider.
An ovarian tumor may be discovered when you have a pelvic exam. Tests you may have are:
Surgery is usually needed to remove the tumor. If the ovary with the tumor becomes twisted, it can cause severe abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting. In this case you may need surgery right away before the tumor damages the ovary.
Sometimes the whole ovary is removed. At the time of surgery the other ovary is thoroughly checked to be sure that it does not also have a tumor. Rarely, both ovaries have to be removed.
A tumor that is removed will be checked for cancer.
Most of the time, a benign tumor that is removed will not come back again.
You should have a routine physical exam, including a pelvic exam and Pap test, as often as your healthcare provider recommends. Routine exams will help ensure that changes in your ovaries are diagnosed as early as possible.
There is no definite way to prevent the growth of ovarian tumors.