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Benign Ovarian Tumor

What is a benign ovarian tumor?

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.

How does it occur?

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.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms depend on the size, location, and type of tumor. Possible symptoms are:

  • a feeling of pressure or fullness in the belly or pelvis
  • a firm, painless swelling in the lower belly
  • irregular bowel or bladder habits
  • pain in the belly
  • painful or irregular menstrual periods (sometimes you may stop having periods)
  • pain during sex
  • swelling of the legs or the area around your vagina
  • an increase in facial and body hair
  • weight gain

Some tumors do not cause any symptoms. They may not be detected until you have a regular checkup with your healthcare provider.

How is it diagnosed?

An ovarian tumor may be discovered when you have a pelvic exam. Tests you may have are:

  • scans such as an ultrasound scan, CT scan, or MRI
  • laparoscopy, which uses a camera attached to a thin tube to look inside your belly at your ovaries
  • blood tests

How is it treated?

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.

How long will the effects last?

Most of the time, a benign tumor that is removed will not come back again.

How can I help take care of myself?

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.

How can I help prevent a benign ovarian tumor?

There is no definite way to prevent the growth of ovarian tumors.

Developed by RelayHealth.
Published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2010-11-10
Last reviewed: 2010-10-07
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
© 2011 RelayHealth and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved.
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