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What Is an Adnexal Neoplasm?

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  • Written By: H. Colledge
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 26 August 2016
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An adnexal neoplasm is a tumor which develops in adnexal tissue. Adnexal means accessory, and adnexal tissues are accessory structures belonging to an organ. In a medical context, adnexal most often refers to accessory parts of the eye, uterus or skin, such as the eyelids, ovaries and sweat glands, and an adnexal neoplasm may occur in any of these sites. An adnexal tumor may be benign or malignant, although most are found to be benign. While a benign tumor does not spread and is not cancerous, a malignant tumor, or malignancy, is cancer and may invade the rest of the body if left untreated.

There are many kinds of skin adnexal tumors, both malignant and benign. Adnexal cells in the skin are found in sweat glands and hair follicles and when new, abnormal growth, or neoplasia, occurs in these cells, an adnexal neoplasm is formed. In most cases, an adnexal tumor of the skin is not cancer, and treatment will consist of surgically removing the tumor. Rarely, a cancerous neoplasm is found, and these tend to have a poor outlook due to their tendency to invade surrounding structures and spread through the body.

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An adnexal neoplasm of the ovary is usually benign. Sometimes the growth represents a normal, functional ovarian cyst, which the body produces several times a year, but which has enlarged or failed to go away before the end of that particular menstrual cycle. An adnexal tumor is more likely to be benign if it occurs in a woman's reproductive years. Before puberty, and after menopause, there is a greater chance that an adnexal tumor could be malignant. In many cases, this type of neoplasm of the ovary causes no obvious symptoms, although sometimes a lump may be noticeable.

The treatment of an adnexal neoplasm of the ovary depends on whether the tumor is cancerous. For a benign neoplasm, treatment is not always required and the growth may disappear by itself. If not, laparoscopic surgery, which is carried out through small incisions, may be performed to remove the tumor.

When the surgeon believes the neoplastic cells that make up a tumor could be cancerous, surgery could involve inspecting nearby structures for signs of spread. Depending on how far the tumor has progressed, surgery may be limited to cutting out the main structures involved, or nearby tissues might be removed as well. The outlook for an adnexal neoplasm of the ovary varies from excellent in the case of a benign tumor to poor in the case of a cancerous tumor that is already advanced at the time of diagnosis.

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