A Brenner tumor is an independent growth of cells in the ovaries. This can lead to benign or malignant courses. Benign tumors form cells and take up space, but do not destroy other cells, in contrast to malignant tumors, in which the cancer cells spread more and more and destroy and displace other cells.
What is a Brenner tumor?
According to abbreviationfinder.org, the Brenner tumor is a tumor in the ovary area. Most of the time this is benign, but it can also develop malignantly, but this is less often the case (less than 10 percent of the cases).
The Brenner tumor got its name from the pathologist Fritz Brenner. The size of the tumor is rather small, so that it can often be overlooked even during routine examinations.
Brenner tumor occurs mainly in women of old age after menopause. In many cases the benign (benign) tumors can be seen as a preliminary stage to the development of a malignant (malignant) tumor, but there is still no guarantee that a malignant disease of the ovaries will actually follow as a result.
The exact potential of benign tumors has not yet been researched and the course has not been precisely documented.
This also results from the fact that benign tumors, like Brenner’s tumor, are often very small and are more likely to be found by chance during other examinations or interventions in the relevant area. The causes are so far not sufficiently known, a connection with the (changed) hormonal balance of women is possible.
Symptoms, ailments & signs
A Brenner tumor is usually discovered as an incidental finding because it usually remains asymptomatic. In most cases it is a benign tumor of the ovaries, which has little tendency to grow. Therefore, the tumor remains small and therefore does not press on other organs.
However, since the Brenner tumor often produces estrogen, high levels of estrogen can often be found in older patients as well. Only when it has reached a certain size can it cause abdominal complaints through the displacement processes of other organs. As a rule, however, this is only the case when a benign tumor has degenerated into a malignant Brenner tumor. However, malignant degeneration only occurs in around ten percent of cases.
Even after the malignant transformation, the tumor does not initially cause any symptoms. Only after a long time do unspecific symptoms appear, which could also indicate many other diseases. A feeling of pressure slowly develops in the lower abdomen, which is often associated with nausea. The pressure of the tumor on neighboring organs can lead to a feeling of fullness, gas, increased urination and constipation.
Furthermore, tiredness, exhaustion and poor performance are increasingly evident. The stomach swells up because more water is stored there. In addition, bleeding occurs after the menopause or outside of the normal menstrual period. In the later stages, fever and night sweats are also observed.
The diagnosis is first made using ultrasound and can make changes in the ovaries visible. However, this is only the beginning. In most cases, a laparoscopy (is laparoscopy) necessary to the tumor to be considered accurate and can also be seen samples for cytological examination.
Immediate removal of the tumor or ovaries may also be an option, and a detailed examination of the tissue is carried out afterwards to clarify which further measures are required. Simultaneously with the first examinations, blood is drawn in order to show the laboratory parameters and to assign any increased tumor markers to the diagnosis accordingly, thus gaining valuable time for a therapy to be initiated.
Complications mainly occur in patients whose Brenner tumor is malignant (medically malignant). They mostly result from exhausting treatment methods such as chemotherapy. Not only do they cause the usual side effects such as hair loss, nausea and vomiting, damage to the liver, kidneys, lungs and heart is also possible. Furthermore, problems with blood coagulation or blood formation can be observed again and again.
With radiation therapy, on the other hand, complications only show up every now and then. Nevertheless, side effects are also possible here during and after the treatment. Even the formation of a second tumor due to the high radiation exposure cannot be ruled out.
However, complications are also likely with benign (medically benign) Brenner tumors. On the one hand, there is a chance, albeit a small one, that the cells of an untreated tumor will degenerate and develop into a malignant form of cancer unnoticed. If this change is not discovered in time, there is also the possibility of a fatal outcome with this cancer.
On the other hand, benign Brenner tumors are usually surgically removed nowadays. Although this is a routine procedure, complications from general anesthesia can occur. The risks range from injuries (larynx or vocal cords) to incorrect intubations. In addition, excessive bleeding and damage to the urinary bladder are possible during operations on the ovaries.
When should you go to the doctor?
If a tumor is suspected, a doctor should be consulted immediately. Brenner tumors are often benign, but they must also be monitored and treated symptomatically. Women after the menopause and patients who have already developed cancer are particularly at risk.
Corresponding risk groups should consult a doctor immediately in the event of unusual symptoms. Since tumors on the ovaries do not cause clear symptoms in the early stages, women of older age should also take advantage of regular preventive examinations.
At the latest when a feeling of pressure in the lower abdomen is noticed, which may be accompanied by nausea, a doctor is recommended. Other signs that may require a medical evaluation include loss of appetite, constipation, or abdominal swelling. Bleeding outside of the menstrual period or after the menopause should be investigated immediately.
The doctor can then determine whether the tumor is benign or malignant and initiate treatment immediately. If left untreated, Brenner’s tumor can become severe and, in the case of a malignant tumor, result in death of the patient.
Treatment & Therapy
The treatment of Brenner’s tumor is based on different pillars. Ultimately, in most cases, even if it is the benign form of Brenner’s tumor, the tumor will be removed. The tumor is known to independently produce hormones, especially estrogens, and thus to bring the hormonal balance of women into an imbalance.
As a result, undesirable processes would be triggered in the body that could negatively affect the quality of life. Since it is not certain that no malignant form will develop, removal is advisable. In the case of the benign form, the problem is usually eliminated with the removal and subsequent healing after the operation; no further medical measures are required. Regular follow-up checks are important.
In the case of malignant forms, care must be taken to ensure that no tissue remnants of the tumor remain in the body in order to avoid a new outbreak focus. Depending on the stage, chemotherapy or radiation therapy can be considered to completely destroy the malignant cells. Sometimes chemotherapy or radiation therapy is only required when tumor cells are carried into the abdominal cavity.
The surgical intervention is of course carried out so carefully that such a subsequent event can be avoided, but even with a professional approach, it cannot be ruled out that tumor cells can still get into the abdominal cavity. Therapy measures are also more and more individualized depending on the stage of a tumor in order to achieve the best possible for the patient and to improve the quality of life permanently and quickly.
Outlook & forecast
The prognosis for a Brenner tumor is good in 90% of patients. In these people, the tumor is benign and can be removed in a surgical procedure. If no further complications arise, the patient is discharged as healthy after cancer treatment. Nevertheless, 10% of the sick suffer a less optimistic course of the disease.
These patients are diagnosed with a malignant tumor which, in the worst case, can lead to an early death. If metastases develop, the chances of recovery deteriorate immensely. Depending on the size and location of the Brenner tumor, the removal of the diseased tissue can result in additional removal of the ovaries and the uterus.
In the case of the malignant Brenner tumor, chemotherapy or radiation therapy is recommended after the operation. These last for several months and represent a considerable loss of well-being. Cancer treatment is associated with numerous side effects, from which the patient recovers only slowly over a long period of time.
Nevertheless, it leads to the fact that as many cancer cells as possible are destroyed and the risk of the cancer recurring is reduced. Basically, the benign as well as the malignant tumor can break out again at any time. The prognosis does not change if the disease recurs.
Unfortunately, there are no concrete measures to prevent the development of a Brenner tumor. Women with severe menopausal symptoms and a history of hormonal problems have only a slightly higher risk of developing Brenner’s tumor.
Only regular and conscientious gynecological examinations can prevent progression and spread, as action can be taken at an early stage and consequential damage caused by long periods of undetection can be minimized. Once a year, examinations should also be considered that may not be included in a health insurance benefit and that must be borne by the patient herself.
The prognosis for the patients with an early detection of the Brenner tumor is over 90% survival rate, which of course is also related to the often benign form. The Brenner tumor is recognized early and can be treated very well.
In the case of a Brenner tumor, there are usually no special follow-up options available to those affected. In some cases, the disease can also lead to death if it is recognized and treated late. For this reason, an early diagnosis and treatment of the Brenner tumor have a very positive effect on the further course of the disease and can prevent further complications.
The affected person is dependent on regular examinations in order to identify and treat other tumors or metastases. If the tumors are to be removed by surgery, the person affected must recover after this procedure and take care of the body. Heavy and strenuous exercise or sporting activities should be avoided in order to accelerate healing.
In any case, unnecessary exertion should be avoided, especially with radiation therapy or chemotherapy. Loving care by friends and relatives can also have a positive effect on the further course of the disease. It is not uncommon for people to be in contact with other sufferers of Brenner’s tumor, as this can lead to an exchange of information. In most cases, the patient’s life expectancy is negatively affected by this condition.
You can do that yourself
In most cases, a Brenner tumor is surgically removed. The patient can accelerate recovery by taking care of herself after the procedure and following the doctor’s guidelines regarding nutrition and wound care. At the same time, the site of the intervention must be regularly examined by a doctor. Close medical monitoring can avoid complications and detect any recurrences at an early stage. Regular follow-up checks are particularly important in the case of malignant tumors.
Should the Brenner tumor develop negatively, i.e. form metastases or cause severe discomfort, the patient can seek therapeutic advice. Fears can be dealt with as part of psychological treatment. This often gives patients a new perspective on life. Going to a self-help group is often a good accompanying measure. Talking to other tumor patients not only helps those affected, but also the relatives who get a new perspective on the disease.
Which therapeutic measures are sensible and necessary depends on the patient’s individual situation. That is why you should first speak to a doctor who can establish contact with a suitable therapist or a self-help group.