Ovarian Serous Cystadenoma

Medically Reviewed by Dr Sravya, MBBS, MS 


Phew! What are these terms? It must be a big disease, for sure.

Take a deep breath and calm down. Let us make some sense of these terms separately to help you understand the condition better.

Terms you need to know about

What is an ovarian serous cystadenoma?

To sum it all up, we can say that ovarian serous cystadenoma is a non-cancerous type of ovarian tumor with a cyst containing thin, watery fluid that develops from the cells (epithelium) on the surface of the ovary. It is commonly seen on one ovary, but about 10–20% of the cases involve both ovaries.

Most ovarian cysts form in response to the hormonal changes in the body during periods and tend to go away on their own. But sometimes, cysts that form are not linked to hormonal changes due to menstruation. Usually, these cysts are not harmful but may need long-term monitoring. 

 Cystadenomas are one such type of cyst. They are not related to hormonal changes. Scientists and doctors are not yet aware of any direct causes for their formation.

Ovarian serous cystadenoma

Types of cystadenomas seen in the ovaries

Can they become cancerous?

What is important to note, and it should put you at ease, is that the tumor has no mutations and is mostly not cancerous.

What symptoms should you be aware of?

  1. Small ovarian cystadenomas of sizes 1–3 cm. 
  1. 2. Large ovarian serous cystadenomas are usually about 10 cm in size but may grow larger than 30 cm.
  2. 3. These large cysts press or displace neighboring organs, like loops of the bowel, and may cause symptoms such as

4. Some patients with ovarian cystadenoma may be unable to pass urine and/or distended bladder problems. This may confuse the doctor into believing the condition is related to the urinary bladder rather than the ovaries and delay diagnosis.

You are advised to schedule regular pelvic exams and talk to your doctor about any symptoms that you may be experiencing for an early diagnosis.

How will your doctor diagnose the cyst?

    1. Your doctor may find smaller cysts by chance while doing pelvic examinations, ultrasounds, CT, or MRI scans for some other concern.

The doctor will

2. Transvaginal ultrasound, color Doppler, CT scans, or vaginal MRI are needed to confirm the size and nature of the cysts.

3. Blood investigations to confirm the diagnosis include: cancer antigen 125 (CA-125), carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA), beta hCG levels, alpha-fetoprotein (AFP), cancer antigen (CA19-9), and lactate dehydrogenase (LDH).

4. Routine investigations are also done before going for surgery.

5. The entire tumor is removed surgically and studied by a pathologist under a microscope (histopathological examination). The pathologist then confirms the diagnosis of a serous cystadenoma.

6. Another method of diagnosis is when a surgeon consults a pathologist during surgery. The pathology results may change the type of surgery and future treatment. 

How is it treated?

Many methods of treatment are available. Your gynecologist will choose the treatment depending on the cyst size, whether you plan to get pregnant, your family history of breast or ovarian cancer, etc.

    1. Most small cysts do not require any surgery, but the doctor will closely monitor them for changes. This method is called watchful waiting. During this period, ultrasounds are repeated regularly to monitor changes in the cyst.
    2. The doctor may advise surgery for larger cysts that may be causing major discomfort and other symptoms or may turn cancerous.


Most serous cystadenomas of the ovaries are non-cancerous tumors with an excellent prognosis if managed well by a team of experienced gynecologists, radiologists, and pathologists.

 If you have any concerns or symptoms related to ovarian serous cystadenomas, it would be best to contact a gynecologist. They will provide personalized advice and recommend the best treatment plan for your situation. 

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