About the disease
Ovarian teratoma is a cancer of the ovaries, which are female reproductive organs responsible for producing the eggs. Ovarian teratoma develops in the germ cells. According to Cancer Research UK, this condition is considered to be rare. It usually affects young girls and women in their 20s.
Generally, there are two types of ovarian teratoma: mature and immature. Mature ovarian teratoma is non-cancerous. It may have similar clinical manifestation as immature ovarian teratoma, but in fact it is a cyst. Mature ovarian teratoma is treated by simple removal of the cyst. The woman needs to undergo regular check-up after removal of such cyst to avoid recurrence of this condition. They usually develop in women of reproductive age.
Immature ovarian teratoma is cancerous. This condition is much more rare than mature ovarian teratoma. It is called immature because cancerous germ cells are in the very beginning stage of their development. They are usually diagnosed before they spread or turn into aggressive malignant cells. Even in progressed cases of immature ovarian teratoma the prognosis is still good and usually the recovery can be achieved. Nonetheless, it is important to diagnose immature ovarian teratoma early because it can still spread to fallopian tubes or womb. The less developed the malignant cells are, the more slowly they spread and affect the body. The exact cause of ovarian teratoma has not been identified yet. Genetic predisposition or genetic mutation can play the role in increasing the risk of ovarian teratoma development. In most cases ovarian teratomas develop only on one ovary. In 15% ovarian teratoma develops in both ovaries. It is important to remember that most ovarian teratoma are non-cancerous.
- Pain in the abdomen
- Pain when having sexual intercouse
- Abdominal discomfort
- Feeling of congestion
- During a general examination the doctor will conduct the pelvic examination.
- The doctor will ask if the patient had any symptoms listed above. The doctor will ask if the woman has regular periods or if she takes oral contraceptives. The doctor can also ask if the woman had problem getting pregnant or if she had any abortions in the past.
- An ultrasound and other imaging tests, such as MRI or CT scan, are helpful determining the exact location of ovarian teratoma and the size of formation.
- A biopsy can be used if there is suspicion of malignancy. The doctor obtains little sample of the formation to examine it under the microscope.
- Surgical treatment is used to remove the ovarian teratoma and prevent it from spreading if it is malignant. If the woman is pregnant and the cyst is benign, the surgery usually needs to be postponed after the baby is born to lessen the risk of miscarriage.
- Chemotherapy is used if ovarian teratoma is malignant. The agents kill and scatter undeveloped malignant cells and prevent them from spreading further.