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J Br Menopause Soc. 2006 Jun;12(2):57-63.

Molecular pathology of epithelial ovarian cancer.

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Department of Anatomical Pathology, Monash Medical Centre, Clayton, Victoria, Australia.


Ovarian cancer is the most lethal gynaecological malignancy and it most commonly occurs in postmenopausal women. Ninety per cent of ovarian cancers are derived from the ovarian surface epithelium and these neoplasms are classified into serous, mucinous, endometrioid, clear-cell and transitional-cell types. The molecular pathology of ovarian carcinomas is heterogeneous and involves various putative precursor lesions and multiple pathways of development. The most common subtype, high-grade serous carcinoma, is characterized by p53 mutations, and BRCA1 and/or BRCA2 dysfunction. It most likely arises from epithelium within inclusion cysts or from the surface of the ovary. In contrast, low-grade serous carcinomas are characterized by KRAS or BRAF mutations and appear to arise via an adenoma-borderline-carcinoma sequence. Similarly, mucinous carcinomas have KRAS mutations and probably develop via an adenoma-borderline-carcinoma sequence. Low-grade endometrioid carcinomas, however, are characterized by mutations in PTEN and CTNNB1, and microsatellite instability, and may arise from ovarian endometriosis or borderline endometrioid tumours. High-grade endometrioid carcinomas have similar changes to high-grade serous carcinomas. Clear-cell carcinomas are characterized by mutations of TGFbetaR2 and over-expression of HNF-1beta, and probably arise from ovarian endometriosis. The molecular changes in transitional-cell carcinomas of the ovary remain largely unknown. The identified molecular changes and pathways of development in epithelial ovarian cancer will facilitate the rationalized development of new diagnostic modalities and tailored therapies for this malignancy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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