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Gynecol Oncol. 2011 Jun 1;121(3):466-71. doi: 10.1016/j.ygyno.2011.01.031. Epub 2011 Feb 24.

Correlation of macroscopic and microscopic pathology in risk reducing salpingo-oophorectomy: implications for intraoperative specimen evaluation.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, University of California-San Francisco, 505 Parnassus Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94313, USA.



A minority of risk-reducing salpingo-oophorectomy (RRSO) specimens from BRCA mutation carriers will contain clinically occult carcinoma that is detectable only using a specialized pathologic evaluation protocol. Although intraoperative detection of cancer may alter immediate surgical management, technical complications impairing pathologic diagnosis may result if fresh tissue dissection and frozen sections are performed on unselected RRSO specimens. We hypothesize that macroscopic specimen findings may predict which RRSO specimens contain cancer and therefore may guide selection of specimens for intraoperative pathologic evaluation. The aim of this study was to correlate the macroscopic and microscopic pathologic findings in RRSO.


RRSO specimens from 134 women with a BRCA mutation were retrospectively classified by their grossly visible findings (cysts and/or nodules versus grossly unremarkable). Correlation of the gross findings with the microscopic finding of occult tubal and/or ovarian carcinoma was performed by re-examination of all pathology slides.


While 46% of RRSO had visible ovarian cysts and 34% had visible tubal/paratubal cysts, no cyst contained cancer on microscopic examination. Carcinoma was detected in 2/22 (9%) visible ovarian nodules and in 2/8 (25%) visible tubal nodules. Conversely, among all 11 RRSO specimens containing cancer, 7 (64%) had no corresponding visible abnormality.


Frozen section evaluation of a solid nodule may be valuable in patients consented for immediate surgical staging. Otherwise it is best to avoid intraoperative dissection or frozen section of RRSO that are macroscopically normal or contain only cysts; such specimens should remain undissected for immediate formalin-fixation as the first step of the specialized pathology evaluation protocol.

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