Cause of Woman's Weight Gain: 88-Pound Tumor

Doctors remove huge ovarian cyst

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 12, 2014 3:30 PM CDT | Updated Mar 16, 2014 12:04 PM CDT

(Newser) – After a year of watching her waistline expand, a 57-year-old Brazilian woman finally consulted doctors when it hit 52 inches ... and they discovered the cause was an 88-pound, mucus-filled ovarian tumor. The woman, who was overweight, had very few other symptoms: just a feeling of "heaviness" in her stomach, and breathing that was somewhat shallow and quick. An obstetric surgeon who was not involved in the case gives this nausea-inducing description of a "mucinous cystadenomas," or mucus-filled ovarian cyst, to LiveScience: "When you cut it open, mucus just comes pouring out."

But, though they are somewhat common in women ages 30 to 50, they usually remain small and go away without treatment; in fact, some women don't even notice they have them, and just assume they're gaining weight. (The largest one ever removed? More than 300 pounds.) In this woman's case—which occurred in 2003, but was recently written up in the Journal of Medical Case Reports—the tumor had grown so large it actually squished her uterus and abdominal contents; it measured 16.5 inches by 15.7 inches by 11 inches. After it was removed, the woman underwent chemotherapy because the tumor had shown some signs of early-stage cancer, but today she is symptom-free. (Another weird medical case, this one with an unhappy ending: A man's nail-biting habit recently led to his death.)

  (Shutterstock)
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