Pelvic Masses

A pelvic mass describes any benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous) growth or enlargement that originates in the cervix, an ovary, the uterus or a surrounding structure in the lower abdomen. Most women develop a pelvic mass at some point in their lives, although many go undetected.

There are multiple types of pelvic masses, including:

  • Ectopic pregnancies
  • Endometriosis
  • Endometrial hyperplasia
  • Polycystic abscesses
  • Ovarian cysts
  • Fibroid tumors
  • Adenomyosis
  • Benign or malignant tumors

Pelvic Mass Causes

Some pelvic masses don’t have an identifiable cause. However, age appears to play a role in their development.

Women of reproductive age—who have not reached menopause, which typically occurs around age 50—are more likely to experience:

  • Fibroid tumors
  • Ectopic pregnancies
  • Ovarian cysts
  • Benign tumors
  • Endometriosis

Younger women are also susceptible to developing malignant pelvic masses, such as ovarian cancer and fallopian tube cancer. However, pelvic tumors are more likely to be cancerous in postmenopausal women.

Pelvic Mass Symptoms

Not all pelvic masses produce symptoms. Those that do may cause:

  • Pelvic pain
  • A frequent urge to urinate
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Abdominal bloating or swelling
  • Vaginal bleeding in between periods or after menopause
  • Unusually heavy or irregular menstruation
  • Changes in bowel habits

Pelvic Mass Diagnosis

Signs of a pelvic mass are often identified during a routine gynecological exam. Sometimes, a physician may be able to feel tumors by pressing down on the lower abdomen. If a pelvic mass is suspected, multiple imaging tests can be performed to view pictures of the growth and surrounding organs.

Commonly used pelvic imaging tests include:

  • Abdominal or transvaginal ultrasound imaging
  • Computerized tomography (CT) scans
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans

Pelvic Mass Treatments

Treatment for a pelvic mass will depend on multiple factors, such as the type, size and location of the growth and whether it’s causing symptoms. Some masses may only require monitoring, while surgical removal may be recommended for others. At Tampa General Hospital’s Women’s Institute, our surgeons perform minimally invasive laparoscopic procedures to remove masses with little disruption to surrounding healthy tissues. This minimally invasive approach typically translates to a shorter recovery period and less post-operative discomfort for patients.