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Sertoli-Leydig cell tumor

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

Causes of Sertoli-Leydig cell tumor

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

Sertoli-Leydig tumors occur most often in young women 20 to 30 years old. But the tumor can occur at any age.

Sertoli-Leydig cell tumor 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 called testosterone.

These cells are also found in a woman's ovaries, and in very rare cases lead to cancer. A Sertoli-Leydig cell tumor is a cancer that starts in the female ovaries, usually in younger women. 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 is usually due to the tumor pressing on nearby structures

Tests and Exams

The doctor will perform a physical exam and a pelvic exam, and ask about your 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 of Sertoli-Leydig cell tumor

Surgery is done to remove one or both ovaries.

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

Prognosis (Outlook)

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.

References

Coleman RL, Ramirez PT, Gershenson DM. Neoplastic diseases of the ovary: Screening, benign and malignant epithelial and germ cell neoplasms, sex-cord stromal tumors. In: Lentz GM, Lobo RA, Gershenson DM, Katz VL, eds. Comprehensive Gynecology. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2012:chap 33.

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Review Date: 5/29/2014
Reviewed By: Yi-Bin Chen, MD, Leukemia/Bone Marrow Transplant Program, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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