What are Ovarian Tumors?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 20 October 2019
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Ovarian tumors are growths that develop either in or on a woman's ovary. The ovaries are part of a woman's reproductive system. Women have two ovaries, which are charged with producing eggs as well as female hormones. The growths that form on them develop because of abnormal cells. They are solid, differentiating them from cysts, which are filled with fluid.

Ovarian tumors make for a frightening topic for women, but they are not always life threatening. Some tumors are benign, which means the abnormal cells don't spread to other body parts. A benign ovarian tumor may develop for many reasons, and scientists are not always sure what causes them. It is even possible for them to develop before a woman is born.

The treatment for benign tumors depends on the woman's health status. Sometimes a doctor may choose to wait on treating them to see how they develop and whether or not they continue to grow. Sometimes, doctors recommend removing ovarian tumors surgically. In some cases, it may even be necessary to remove the ovary along with the tumor. If the ovary is removed, it is usually carefully examined for cancer cells.


Sometimes ovarian tumors are cancerous, or malignant, and have the potential to spread beyond the ovarian tissue. It is estimated that about one-fifth of cancerous ovarian tumors are found while the cancer is still in its early stages. This is important, as catching the cancer early improves a woman's chances for successful treatment. These tumors may be found during a woman's regular pelvic exam, when a doctor feels her organs in order to check on their size and shape. However, it is not always possible for a doctor to detect ovarian tumors in this manner, and Pap smears cannot be used to detect early ovarian cancer.

The symptoms of benign and malignant ovarian tumors are similar. For example, a woman's abdomen may become swollen or abnormally bloated. She may feel pressure in her pelvis or stomach pain. She may feel full faster and have to urinate more often; sometimes, there is pain during sexual intercourse or irregular vaginal bleeding. Unfortunately, these symptoms are rather vague and may be dismissed as other conditions.

There are some screening tests designed for detecting early ovarian tumors. However, they are typically used in women who have a high risk for them. This includes those who have a family history of ovarian cancer. For these women, ultrasounds and blood tests may be used for detecting early cancer, even if they do not have symptoms.


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Post 3

I late dec of 2010 i had surgery because i had a very large tumor on my ovary. I am now having having the same back pain that i was when i found out that i had a tumor. Could it be that it has come back?

Post 2

well if your dr. told you it was a cyst. then why didn't you ask him or her these questions?

Post 1

I have very painful abdomen. My doctor says i have a cyst. What are the signs and symptoms of cysts. And is there anyway to relieve the pain?

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