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Eur J Cancer. 2013 Jan;49(1):132-41. doi: 10.1016/j.ejca.2012.07.021. Epub 2012 Aug 21.

Support of the 'fallopian tube hypothesis' in a prospective series of risk-reducing salpingo-oophorectomy specimens.

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  • 1Division of Gynecologic Oncology, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Groningen, University Medical Center Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands.



To determine the prevalence, localisation and type of occult (non)invasive cancer in risk-reducing salpingo-oophorectomy (RRSO) specimens in BRCA-mutation carriers and high-risk women from BRCA-negative families.


A consecutive series of RRSO specimens of asymptomatic, screen-negative high-risk women were prospectively collected in our tertiary multidisciplinary cancer clinic from January 2000 until March 2012. All high-risk women in this study underwent genetic testing on BRCA-mutations. The surgico-pathological protocol comprised complete resection of ovaries and fallopian tubes, transverse sectioning at 2-3 mm (sectioning and extensively examining the fimbrial end [SEE-FIM] protocol from 2006) and double independent pathology review of morphologically deviant sections.


Three hundred and sixty RRSOs were performed in 188 BRCA1-carriers, 115 BRCA2-carriers and 57 BRCA-negative women at a median age of 44.0 years. Four occult invasive cancers were detected in BRCA-carriers (1.3%, 95%-confidence interval (CI) 0.03-2.61), all in BRCA1-carriers >40 years of age. All cancers, of which two tubal and two ovarian cancers, were FIGO-stage I/II. Three non-invasive serous intraepithelial carcinomas (STICs) were detected in BRCA-carriers (1.0%, 95%-CI 0.00-2.10). In BRCA-negative women one STIC was found (1.8%, 95%-CI 0.00-5.16), however she carried an unclassified variant in BRCA2. Total follow-up after RRSO was 1691 woman-years, in which one BRCA1-carrier developed peritoneal cancer (0.3%, 95%-CI 0.00-0.82).


A low prevalence of occult invasive cancer (1.1%) was found in young asymptomatic, screen-negative women at increased ovarian cancer risk undergoing RRSO. This study adds to the advice to perform RRSO in BRCA1-carriers before the age of 40. Our findings support the hypothesis of the fallopian tube as the primary site of origin of pelvic high-grade serous cancer.

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