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Sertoli-Leydig cell tumor

Sertoli-Leydig cell tumor (SLCT) is a rare cancer of the ovaries. The cancer cells produce and release a male sex hormone called testosterone.

Causes

The exact cause of this tumor is not known. Changes (mutations) in genes may play a role.

SLCT occur most often in young women 20 to 30 years old. But the tumor can occur at any age.

Symptoms

The Sertoli cells are normally located in the male reproductive glands (the testes). They feed sperm cells. The Leydig cells, also located in the testes, release a male sex hormone.

These cells are also found in a woman's ovaries, and in very rare cases lead to cancer. SLCT starts in the female ovaries. The cancer cells release a male sex hormone. As a result, the woman may develop symptoms such as:

  • A deep voice
  • Enlarged clitoris
  • Facial hair
  • Loss in breast size
  • Stopping of menstrual periods

Pain in the lower belly (pelvic area) is another symptom. It occurs due to the tumor pressing on nearby structures.

Exams and Tests

The health care provider will perform a physical exam and a pelvic exam, and ask about the symptoms.

Tests will be ordered to check the levels of female and male hormones, including testosterone.

An ultrasound or another imaging test will likely be done to find out where the tumor is and its size and shape.

Treatment

Surgery is done to remove one or both ovaries.

If the tumor is advanced stage, chemotherapy or radiation therapy may be done after surgery.

Outlook (Prognosis)

Early treatment results in a good outcome. Feminine characteristics usually return after surgery. But male characteristics resolve more slowly.

For more advanced stage tumors, outlook is less positive.

Alternative Names

Sertoli-stromal cell tumor; Arrhenoblastoma; Androblastoma; Ovarian cancer - Sertoli-Leydig cell tumor

References

Ellenson LH, Pirog EC. The female genital tract. In: Kumar V, Abbas AK, Aster JC, eds. Robbins and Cotran Pathologic Basis of Disease. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 22.

Fletcher CDM. Tumors of the female genital tract. In: Fletcher CDM, ed. Diagnostic Histopathology of Tumors. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2013:chap 13.

Prat J. Ovarian sex cord - stromal and steroid cell tumors. In: Mutter GL, Prat J, eds. Pathology of the Female Reproductive Tract. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone; 2014:chap 28.

Review Date 5/20/2016

Updated by: Todd Gersten, MD, Hematology/Oncology, Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute, Wellington, FL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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