Peritoneal tuberculosis with pelvic abdominal mass, ascites and elevated CA 125 mimicking advanced ovarian carcinoma: a series of 10 cases.

Bilgin T., Karabay A., Dolar E., Develioglu O.

International journal of gynecological cancer : official journal of the International Gynecological Cancer Society, vol.11, no.4, pp.290-4, 2001 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier


Ten patients with peritoneal tuberculosis who were operated on for suspected advanced ovarian cancer during a 5-year period were analyzed. These 10 cases constituted 1.4% of the 728 new gynecologic cancer cases diagnosed and treated at our department during the same time period. Data were obtained from patients' files and pathology reports. The mean age of cases was 40.6 +/- 6.1 (median 37; range 18-72). Ascites was present together with ill-defined nodularities or thickening in the Douglas pouch and/or in the adnexal areas on pelvic examination in all patients but three, who presented with well-demarcated adnexal masses of about 5 cm in diameter. All patients had elevated serum CA 125 levels with a median of 331 U/ml, (40-560 U/ml). Ultrasound and abdomino-pelvic CT examinations revealed omental and mesenteric thickening in addition to ascites in all patients, cystic ovarian masses or ovarian enlargement in five, and peritoneal implants in two. Abdominal paracentesis performed in the six cases in whom the findings were felt to be most inconclusive for the diagnosis of ovarian cancer revealed clear exudative fluid with benign cells. Mycobacteria could not be demonstrated on direct preparations. Tuberculosis was diagnosed at laparotomy in all. Patients received antituberculous therapy and serum CA 125 levels returned to normal within 2 months after the beginning of treatment. This case series demonstrates a high rate of misdiagnosis between advanced ovarian cancer and peritoneal tuberculosis. Whereas abdominal paracentesis is useless in ruling out peritoneal tuberculosis, and serum CA 125 levels are not helpful in the differential diagnosis, the latter marker may be useful in the follow-up of patients.