Woman complaining to doctor about pain

Abdominal Mass


Healthgrades Editorial Staff

What is an abdominal mass?

An abdominal mass is an abnormal collection of tissue within the abdominal cavity. The abdominal cavity is the internal compartment between the chest and pelvis commonly referred to as the belly. Abdominal masses may be large or small, benign or malignant (cancerous), and curable or untreatable. Examples of small benign abdominal masses include hamartomas and cysts, which are solid and fluid-filled collections, respectively, of normal cells. Examples of serious abdominal masses are cancer, abscess, and abdominal aortic aneurysm, which is a life-threatening enlargement of the aorta within the abdomen.

A physician may detect abdominal masses on physical examination. Often, one or more imaging tests, such as an ultrasound or a CAT scan (also known as CT scan or CT), may be required in order to further define the mass. A definitive diagnosis may require a surgical biopsy, in which a piece of the mass is removed for examination under a microscope by a pathologist.

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Some abdominal masses, such as simple cysts, require no treatment at all. Others, such as colon cancer, may require extensive treatment with chemotherapy, surgery and radiation. The prognosis of an abdominal mass depends on its diagnosis.

Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you have an abdominal mass that is pulsing (like a heartbeat) with or without severe abdominal pain.

If you have any abdominal mass, seek prompt medical care.

Medical Reviewers: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Oct 17, 2016

© 2017 Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the Healthgrades User Agreement.

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Medical References

  1. Abdominal mass. Medline Plus, a service of the National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health.
  2. Abdominal adhesions. National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC).

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