What Are Ovarian Low Malignant Potential Tumors?

This tumor starts in a woman’s ovaries. Your two ovaries are low in your belly on either side of your uterus. They hold your eggs and make hormones that control your reproduction cycles.

Ovarian low malignant potential tumors start in the tissue that covers the outside of the ovary. They usually grow slowly and stay inside your ovary.

When most people hear they have a tumor, they think it’s cancer. But this isn’t always true. These tumors may become cancer, but this is rare. They are usually found and treated before this happens.

What Causes It, and Who’s at Risk?

Doctors don’t know why some women get these tumors. They seem to be more common in women who used fertility drugs for more than 1 year without getting pregnant. Women who never get pregnant may also have a higher risk.

These tumors most often affect younger women and can affect their ability to have children.

Symptoms

It’s possible to have an ovarian tumor and not know it right away. Signs you may have one include:

You could have those symptoms for many other reasons. Most of the time, it’s not an ovarian tumor. But you need to see a doctor to find out.

Diagnosis

Your doctor will do a pelvic exam and ask about your medical history and any problems you’re having.

You will probably get an ultrasound. This test uses sound waves to make pictures of your ovaries. It can show tumors on your ovaries. If you have a tumor on one ovary, your other ovary should be checked, too. An ultrasound can show the size of the tumor and whether it has spread to nearby tissues.

You may also get other tests, such as CT scans and MRIs. These can show more details. Your doctor can use them to see if the tumor has spread.

If these tests show that you have a tumor, a biopsy is the only way to know if it’s cancer. Your doctor takes out a tiny piece of the tumor to check it for cancer cells. Sometimes all of the tumor is taken out and then checked for cancer.

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Treatments

Your doctor will recommend a treatment plan that depends on:

  • Your tumor’s size
  • Whether it has spread beyond the ovary
  • Whether you want to get pregnant
  • Your age
  • Your general health
  • Your choices

Surgery to take out the affected ovary is the most common treatment. If you don’t plan any more pregnancies, your surgeon may remove both ovaries, the fallopian tubes, uterus, and cervix, too. (This is called a hysterectomy.)

If you might still want to get pregnant, your doctor may be able to take out only the affected ovary and the fallopian tube on the same side. Sometimes, you may be able to have just the tumor taken out and the ovary is left in place, but this is rare.

If the tumor has spread beyond the ovary to nearby tissues, your doctor will remove as much of it as possible. The tumors can spread to other parts of your body, like your lungs and liver, but this almost never happens.

After surgery, you will need to see your doctor about every 6 months so you can be checked for signs that the tumor has come back.

If the tumor is cancer, your doctor will talk to you about more treatment. With ovarian cancer, palliative care would be important, too. It includes taking care of your pain and emotions you may be dealing with, as well as your condition. And researchers are testing new treatments in clinical trials, so you may want to ask your doctor if there’s one that would be a good fit for you.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD on August 09, 2017

Sources

SOURCES:

National Cancer Institute: “Ovarian Low Malignant Potential Tumors Treatment (PDQ®)–Patient Version.”

Mayo Clinic: “Female infertility: Treatment.”

Medscape: “Borderline Ovarian Cancer Borderline Tumor Overview.”

American Cancer Society: “Treatment for Epithelial Tumors of Low Malignant Potential,” “What Is Ovarian Cancer?”

Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews: “Interventions for the treatment of borderline ovarian tumours.”

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