While patients with endometriosis can often develop tumors in the ovaries or fallopian tubes, more studies are needed to determine if this is coincidental or driven by the biology of the disease, a new study shows.
The abstract, “Adnexal tumors associated with endometriosis: Experience from an academic institution,” was published in the journal Clinical Cancer Research.
Endometriosis is a painful disease in which tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus, called the endometrium, grows outside of the uterus.
The disease can involve pelvic organs such as ovaries and fallopian tubes in about 10% of all cases.
Studies have shown that ovarian cancer occurs at higher than expected rates in women with endometriosis, leading researchers to debate whether endometriosis is actually a precancerous lesion or just an incidental link to adnexal (which refers to the fallopian tubes and ovaries) tumors.
Researchers conducted a study to determine the frequency of adnexal masses in patients with endometriosis of adnexal structures.
They did a retrospective review of patients diagnosed with adnexal endometriosis from 2013 to 2017 and analyzed the patients’ age, demographics, and associated benign or malignant adnexal masses.
Researchers were able to identify 151 patients with histologically-verified (validated through a biopsy) endometriosis of fallopian tubes and/or ovaries.
The average age of patients was 42, ranging from 22-78. The race and ethnicities of the patients were 79% white, 11% black, and 9% others.
Among these patients, 5.3% had associated malignant tumors while 6.6% were found to have benign masses in the ipsilateral site (occurring on the same side of the body) of endometriosis.
The types of malignant tumors in these patients were endometrioid adenocarcinoma (identified in four patients), high-grade serous carcinoma (three patients), and clear cell carcinoma (one patient).
The benign masses included the ovarian tumors serous cystadenoma/cystadenofibroma (seven patients) and seromucinous tumors (three patients).
Therefore, malignant neoplasms — particularly endometrioid and high-grade serous carcinoma — are relatively frequent in patients with endometriosis verified by biopsy.
Among patients with benign masses, serous cystadenoma and seromucinous neoplasms are most commonly associated with endometriosis.
“More studies are needed to further highlight the significance of adnexal endometriosis in causation of malignant and benign adnexal tumors,” the authors said.
The research was presented at the American Association of Cancer Research (AACR) Special Conference: Addressing Critical Questions in Ovarian Cancer Research and Treatment in October 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsyvania.