Definition

An arrhenoblastoma is a rare type of ovarian tumor. This tumor primarily secretes the male sex hormone, testosterone, and rarely the female sex hormone, estrogen. It accounts for less than 0.5% of all ovarian tumors.

Arrhenoblastomas are generally benign, meaning they do not normally spread beyond the ovary. However, they may cause male physical characteristics to develop in women, such as facial hair and a deepening voice. If you suspect you have this condition, contact your doctor immediately.

Arrhenoblastoma

Ovarian Cancer

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Causes

The cause of arrhenoblastoma is unknown.

Risk Factors

A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease or condition. The following factors increase your chance of developing arrhenoblastoma.

    
  • Young age—arrhenoblastomas most commonly occur among young women (ages 20-30), however they may occur at any age, including toddlers, young girls, and postmenopausal women
  • Very rarely, arrhenoblastoma is a complication of pregnancy
  • Symptoms

    If you experience any of these symptoms, do not assume it is due to an arrhenoblastoma. These symptoms may be caused by other, less serious health conditions. If you experience any one of them, see your physician.

        
  • In many cases, infrequent menstrual periods or cessation of menstrual periods is the only symptom
  • In up to one in three patients, arrhenoblastoma is accompanied by masculinization, including any of the following:     
  • Acne
  • Deepening voice
  • Hirsutism (increased facial hair)
  • Enlarged clitoris
  • Diagnosis

    Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam. He or she will also test your levels of male hormones (such as testosterone and androsterone) to see if they are excessive.

    Tests may include the following:

        
  • Blood tests of hormone levels (including testosterone, DHEA, CD56, and progesterone levels)—to detect if male hormones are high
  • Ultrasound —to identify the location, size, and shape of the tumor
  • Pelvic Ultrasound

    Pelvic Ultrasound

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    Treatment

    Treatment involves surgery to remove one or both ovaries. This procedure is usually successful in returning normal menstruation (in premenopausal women) and ceasing masculinization. If the tumor is late stage and particularly aggressive (which is rare), radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or both, in addition to surgery, may be needed.

    Prevention

    There are no known ways to prevent ovarian cancer of any kind, as the cause is unknown. To learn more about risk factors for ovarian cancers in general, see the fact sheet on ovarian cancer for more information.