• Dr. Kristen Mitteness

My "super, super rare" cancer

Updated: May 3

My surgery follow up was schedule for 4 weeks and 6 days after my surgery. I was told my pathology report would come in 3-4 weeks after my surgery. I was never told if I would receive it before my appointment. I thought I might get a phone call, but I wasn't holding my breath. I was often reminded by people that if it was serious, they would get a hold of you sooner. So, at this point, I'm feeling really good both physically and mentally and I'm assuming it's just a typical benign tumor.

The chances of the tumor being a teratoma (also called a dermoid) at this point haven't been discussed. You know, the tumors with the hair and teeth and stuff. If you didn't know, now you know. They look gross but you hope it's what you have because they are usually benign. I assumed I would have known by now if it was a differential diagnosis. 10-20% of ovarian tumors are teratomas and 1-3% of teratomas are malignant. And as it turns out, mine is that 1-3%.


Teratomas grow with cells that don't belong there. Thus, you'll often see hair and teeth. In fact, mine DID contain hair. But, it also contained cancer cells. SKIN CANCER CELLS. Bizarre, I know. Most teratomas that are malignant often have this type: squamous cell carcinoma. It's also much more common in post menopausal women. So, like, not me.


She tells me this is "super, super rare". 1% of cases. On the upside, I probably won't require any additional treatment. But, I will need some additional scans just to make sure everything else is clear. Because they assumed it was just a benign teratoma during surgery they didn't take any lymph to check. Worse case scenario at this point is that I'll have to get that checked via laparoscopy. Also, now that malignant cells have been found I'll require more frequent follow ups and be in the Cancer Care system for five years.

I suppose, if I was going to have cancer, this would be best case scenario. Fingers crossed everything else looks good and I can keep on keeping on! Update (May 3, 2021): My CT results came back clear! Now I just have frequent check ups for the next while. Now I'll continue to focus on recovery. Hopefully, I won't have any further issues!

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