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What are Cystadenomas?

By Jim Ramphal
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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A cystadenoma is a type of ovarian cyst that may be formed during an abnormal ovulation process. In a normal monthly cycle, a woman will typically produce one immature egg that is nurtured by ovarian follicles which are hormonally stimulated to allow the egg to develop. When the egg has matured, this follicle or sac will burst, releasing the egg to travel through the fallopian tubes where it will be fertilized. Cystadenomas will occur if the sac does not rupture and release the matured egg, trapping it instead within the ovary where it develops into abnormal tissue. They are most often benign, meaning they are not cancerous.

Cystadenomas are classified as neoplasms or new growth tissues that can take two distinct forms. The smaller type of these cysts are called serous cystadenomas, are commonly between 2 to 6 inches (5.1 to 15.2 cm) in diameter, and are filled with a thin, watery liquid. Women between the ages of 20 and 40 are most likely to develop this type of cystadenoma. The larger type are called mucinous cystademona, are typically between 6 to 12 inches (15.2 to 30.5 cm) in diameter but can grow much larger, and are filled with a thick, gelatin-like material. They are most common among women between the ages of 40 and 60.

Although these cysts are usually benign, particularly the much smaller and less worrisome serous variety, the mucinous form can develop into a very large mass. Large cysts may disturb normal internal functions of the uterus, stomach, intestines, and bowel. Though the incidences are rare, either type of cystadenoma has the potential to develop as a malignant or cancerous cyst.

Due to their small size, serous cystadenomas exhibit few symptoms that make their presence known, and are most often diagnosed during routine gynecological examinations. The larger mucinous cystadenoma is easier to detect from such inspections, and it can be characterized by unusual abdominal or menstrual pain. Fortunately, regular gynecological examinations can usually diagnose both types of cysts long before they become problematic. Cysts can also be discovered by an ultrasound examination, followed by an x-ray to determine the nature of the cyst from the material it contains.

The standard procedure for cystadenoma treatment is surgical removal of the tissue. For smaller serous cysts, a doctor may use laparascopy, in which a thin tube is inserted into the uterus through a tiny incision in the abdomen. For larger mucinous cystadenoma, intra ovular surgery may be required. In either case, the incidences of full recovery are high, as cystadenomas rarely return once they are surgically removed.

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Discussion Comments
By anon283525 — On Aug 05, 2012

I am 51 and haven't had a period for two years. I've just had an ultrasound scan which diagnosed a serious cystadenoma i.e. filed with liquid. The consultant was quite sure it's that type because of the way it moved. I think it's 7.5 cm.

He says I can't have the laparoscopy but will need a bikini abdominal cut to remove at least that ovary and he recommends both ovaries to reduce any risk of recurrence (unless the blood test comes back with raised Cr123 levels which would indicate possible cancer in which case it will be a hysterectomy and a zipper vertical cut).

By anon130954 — On Nov 30, 2010

I am a 52 year old woman who does not produce eggs.

I have a simple 5cm cyst which looks benign but I am still worried.

A cystadenoma appears most likely because I don't ovulate, but the cyst contains only fluid and a small amount of it.

So is it most likely to be serous but I am a little older than the age range mentioned in the article?

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