Sex Cord-Stromal Cancer

Ovarian cancers that are not on the surface of the ovary (the epithelium) make up approximately 20% of all ovarian cancers. Sex cord-stromal cancers are a category that includes a diverse group of tumours which come from the hormone-producing ovarian cortical stroma. These tumours are uncommon, often slow growing, and differ from epithelial tumours.

Sex cord-stromal tumours are classified into 3 main categories: pure stromal tumours, pure sex cord tumours and mixed sex cord-tumours. 

Who gets these tumours? 

These tumours occur in a wide range of ages and people often present with hormone-related symptoms. 

How common are these tumours? 

Benign (non-cancerous) stromal tumours make up 0.5% to 3.7% of all benign ovarian tumours. Sex cord-stroma tumours are the fifth most common type of cancerous ovarian tumour and make up around 5-8% of all ovarian cancer diagnoses.   

What are the symptoms? 

Women and people with a pure stromal tumour have similar symptoms to epithelial ovarian cancer – abdominal or pelvic pain with the discovery of a mass when imaged or examined. For some, there may be age-specific clinical symptoms, such as early puberty in children or abnormal bleeding in women and people who are post-menopausal. 

Granulosa cell tumours

Granulosa cell tumours are defined as having at least 10% of the tumour being composed of granulosa cells. Around 12% of all sex cord-stromal tumours are a granulosa and 70% of cancerous (malignant) tumours are granulosa cell tumours. They normally occur in middle aged-women and people with ovaries, peaking in the mid-50s. 

How are these tumours managed? 

The treatment for this type of tumour will depend on many factors including age at diagnosis, fitness level, and the specific type of tumour. Your clinical team will advise you on what is the most appropriate treatment for you. 

If you have any questions please do contact our Ask Eve Specialist Information Nurse, Hilary Maxwell either by email nurse@eveappeal.org.uk or by phone 0808 802 0019.