Adnexal tumors are growths that form on the organs and connective tissues around the uterus in women. Adnexal tumors are most often noncancerous (benign), but they can be cancerous (malignant).

Adnexal tumors occur in the:

  • Ovaries
  • Fallopian tubes
  • Connective tissue around the ovaries or fallopian tubes

Diagnosis of adnexal tumors involves a careful physical exam, imaging tests and, sometimes, surgery. Treatment for adnexal tumors depends on the specific location and types of cells involved.

  • Teamwork. At Mayo Clinic, gynecologists work with gynecologic surgeons, radiation oncologists and medical oncologists to form a multidisciplinary team to care for women with adnexal tumors. Other professionals are included as needed.
  • Experience. Mayo Clinic doctors have extensive experience diagnosing and treating adnexal tumors. Each year Mayo Clinic doctors care for about 1,300 women with adnexal tumors.
  • Latest diagnostic techniques. Mayo Clinic doctors have access to the latest in diagnostic technology to quickly and accurately diagnose adnexal tumors. Mayo Clinic pathologists are skilled in assessing adnexal tumor samples to determine if they are cancerous.
  • A full range of treatment options to consider. Mayo Clinic doctors will work with you to review all of your treatment options and choose the treatment that best suits your needs and goals.
  • Comprehensive cancer center. Mayo Clinic Cancer Center meets strict standards for a National Cancer Institute comprehensive cancer center, which recognizes scientific excellence and a multidisciplinary approach to cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment.

Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., ranks No. 1 for gynecology in the U.S. News & World Report Best Hospitals rankings. Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla., and Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Ariz., are ranked high performing for gynecology by U.S. News & World Report.

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At Mayo Clinic in Arizona, women with adnexal tumors are cared for by an experienced team of specialists, including gynecologists, gynecologic oncologists, oncologists, radiation oncologists, radiologists and pathologists. Other experts are included as needed.

For appointments or more information, call the Central Appointment Office at 800-446-2279 (toll-free) 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mountain Standard Time, Monday through Friday or complete an online appointment request form.

At Mayo Clinic in Florida, women with adnexal tumors are cared for by an experienced team of specialists, including gynecologists, gynecologic oncologists, oncologists, radiation oncologists, radiologists and pathologists. Other experts are included as needed.

For appointments or more information, call the Central Appointment Office at 904-953-0853 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern time, Monday through Friday or complete an online appointment request form.

At Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, women with adnexal tumors are cared for by an experienced team of specialists, including gynecologic oncologists, gynecologists, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, radiologists and pathologists. Other experts are included as needed.

For appointments or more information, call the Central Appointment Office at 507-538-3270 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Central time, Monday through Friday or complete an online appointment request form.

Adnexal tumors are rare in children and adolescents. At Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, your child will be treated by skilled specialists in pediatric hematology and oncology, and gynecologic surgery, along with specialists in other areas, including medical oncology, radiation oncology and other specialties as needed. Children who need inpatient care stay at Mayo Eugenio Litta Children's Hospital, a family-friendly facility.

For appointments or more information, call the Central Appointment Office at 507-538-3270 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Central time, Monday through Friday or complete an online appointment request form.

See information on patient services at the three Mayo Clinic locations, including transportation options and lodging.

Your doctor will talk with you about your medical history and symptoms. He or she will also perform a pelvic exam and may order lab tests.

Imaging

Specialists at Mayo Clinic use high-resolution imaging studies to diagnose adnexal tumors. In tests that involve radiation, specialists carefully monitor doses to avoid the risk of radiation overexposure. Tests may include X-rays or some of these imaging techniques:

  • Ultrasound. Ultrasound is a painless procedure in which a technician moves a wand-like device (transducer) over the surface of your body while monitoring the image on a screen. Transabdominal (through the abdomen) and transvaginal (through the vagina) Doppler ultrasound technology is available at Mayo Clinic.
  • Computerized tomography (CT) scan. CT scans generate 2-D cross-sectional images of the abdomen and pelvis that show whether cancer has spread to other tissues or organs in your body. Technology at Mayo Clinic allows for 3-D reconstruction of the CT images.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan. MRI technology uses magnetic fields and radio waves to create detailed images of your pelvis and abdomen. This highly sensitive technology can identify small abnormalities in your body.
  • Positron emission tomography (PET). To perform a PET scan, doctors inject sugar (glucose) and a very small amount of radiation into your bloodstream. The scan helps show if a tumor has spread, because tumors typically pick up the sugar and appear on the image as "hot spots."

Biopsy

To see if an adnexal tumor contains cancerous cells, a doctor may remove a small piece of the suspected tumor (biopsy), usually during surgery. A pathologist will examine the tissue under a microscope.

Read more about ultrasound, CT scan, MRI, PET scan and biopsy.

Surgery may be the only treatment necessary for noncancerous (benign) adnexal tumors. Treatment for cancerous (malignant) adnexal tumors may include surgery as well as chemotherapy or radiation or both.

Surgery

Surgery to treat noncancerous adnexal tumors differs, depending on whether the tumor is in the fallopian tube or the ovary. Surgery to treat cancerous adnexal tumors is complex, requiring specialized skills. At Mayo Clinic, your surgeon will be a specialist who treats female reproductive cancers (gynecologic oncologist). Studies indicate that women whose surgery is performed by a gynecologic oncologist have significantly higher survival rates than do women whose surgery is performed by surgeons with less specialized training.

  • Laparotomy. For cancerous adnexal tumors, surgical treatment may require the removal of the ovaries, uterus, fallopian tubes, nearby lymph glands and a fold of fatty tissue inside the abdomen (omentum), a common site for ovarian and fallopian tube cancers to spread. When surgeons cannot remove the entire tumor because of its size or location, they will remove as much of it as possible (debulking). If the tumor has spread to other organs, you may need more extensive surgery.
  • Laparoscopic surgery. Sometimes doctors can use laparoscopic surgery for adnexal tumors. Also known as minimally invasive surgery, this procedure uses a small camera and miniature instruments inserted through tiny incisions in the abdomen.

Chemotherapy

After surgery for a cancerous adnexal tumor, you will likely be treated with chemotherapy to kill any remaining cancer cells. Because chemotherapy medications work differently when used together, the doctor may give you a combination of drugs.

Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy uses high-energy X-rays to kill cancer cells. Radiation therapy is rarely used now for ovarian and fallopian tube cancer, in part because of improvements in chemotherapy, but some people may still benefit.

Mayo Clinic doctors and scientists are studying new ways of diagnosing and treating adnexal tumors.

Cancer research is conducted in coordination with the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center. The Mayo Clinic Cancer Center receives funding from the National Cancer Institute and is designated as a comprehensive cancer center — recognition for an institution's scientific excellence and multidisciplinary resources focused on cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment.

Women's Cancer Program

The Women's Cancer Program at Mayo Clinic brings together doctors and researchers in breast and gynecologic surgery, medical and radiation oncology, medical genetics, pathology, and other specialties to develop new therapies for women's cancers.

As part of the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, the Women's Cancer Program offers access to potential new therapies through clinical trials. The Women's Cancer Program also provides emotional and social support classes, a resource center, and educational programs for women and their families.

See a list of publications by Mayo Clinic doctors on adnexal tumors on PubMed, a service of the National Library of Medicine.

Carola A.S. Arndt, M.D.

Jamie N. Bakkum-Gamez, M.D.

William A. Cliby, M.D.

Sean C. Dowdy, M.D.

Bobbie S. Gostout, M.D.

Paul Haluska Jr., M.D., Ph.D.

Lynn C. Hartmann, M.D.

Aminah Jatoi, M.D.

Feb. 27, 2014