Arrhenoblastomas, also known as Sertoli-Leydig cell tumors or androblastomas, are very rare neoplasms of the ovaries, resulting in the overproduction of the male hormone testosterone.
This tumor belongs to the sex cord-stromal tumor group, which is composed of tumors that develop from tissues located in the sex cords of the testis and ovaries. I
n the case of an arrhenoblastoma, the sex cords that are effected are the cortical cords. Arrhenoblastomas are extremely rare, accounting for less than 1% of all ovarian tumors. Although this neoplasm can affect any age group, it is most frequently present in young adults.
Arrhenoblastoma Symptoms and Features
This tumor affects the female body with progressive masculinization, a result of the overproduction of the hormone testosterone. While common in men, this hormone does not promote a healthy female reproductive system and/or feminine appearance.
Elevated levels of testosterone in a woman’s body will result in the deepening of the voice, acne, clitoromegaly (an enlarged clitoris), increased facial and body hair, temporal male-pattern baldness, anovulation (ovular cycles in which the ovaries do not release an oocyte), and even amenorrhoea (no menstrual cycle).
Arrhenoblastomas are easily located and diagnosed using a common type of imaging known as ultrasound. This is a very accessible and relatively inexpensive technology that creates an image of structures inside the body using cyclic sound pressure with frequencies that are undetectable to the human ear.
Ultrasound can be loosely compared to radar. Computed tomography (CT scan) is often employed to gage where and to what degree the tumor has spread. Computed tomography, although more expense than ultrasound, provides the physician and patient with a more precise understanding of the tumor’s size and exact location. Blood tests are also administered to determine testosterone levels in the body.
Recent research indicates that a possible diagnostic feature of arrhenoblastomas is the presence of the glycoprotein CD56. More research is needed, though, before the presence of CD56 can be considered a feature of this tumor.
Surgery is the most common way to treat an arrhenoblastoma and is frequently curative. If surgery is not curative, it will almost always reduce symptoms. If the tumor has spread to other parts of the body, which it rarely does, chemotherapy or radiation therapy are often considered to be the best ways to control tumor growth. There are also a variety of drugs available that can reduce the effects of testosterone and masculinization in the body.
Like all tumors, the prognosis depends on where and to what extent the tumor has spread and whether or not the tumor can be removed. Fortunately, arrhenoblastomas do not typically spread beyond the ovaries. When the growth is detected early, the patient has an extremely high chance of being cured and symptom-free. The median survival rate for patients with arrhenoblastomas is 70 – 90% over a five-year period.