RT @ LiveScience Archaeologists in Portugal discovered an ovarian tumor that had started sprouting teeth https://t.co/bX6h9QDGUB
Today, doctors know that this type of cyst, called a teratoma, is the most common tumor that occurs in the ovaries. But scientists are just starting to learn about past teratoma cases thanks to new evidence from the archaeological record.
A teratoma, which essentially translates as "monstrous swelling" from Greek, can occur when cells that should become eggs start multiplying abnormally and form mature tissues like hair, teeth and bones. [25 Grisly Archaeological Discoveries]
These cysts account for up to 20 percent of all ovarian tumors, and most develop in women of reproductive age, according to past studies. These masses are usually benign and go unnoticed, without causing any symptoms. But some can be cancerous, and some can grow so large that they cause severe pain, or twisting in the ovaries. The largest reported teratoma was 18 inches by 10 inches (45 by 25 centimeters), removed from a 74-year-old woman, according to one review.
While many teratomas look like balls of tissue, some can develop so much that they take the shape of a fetus. In 2004, doctors in Japan reported the discovery of a "doll-like" teratoma with a head and limbs in the ovary of a 25-year-old virginal woman.