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Cancer arising in or near the ovary is actually a collection of diverse malignancies. This collection of malignancies, often referred to as “ovary cancer,” is the most lethal gynecologic malignancy in the United States and other countries that routinely screen women for cervical neoplasia. In 2014, it was estimated that there were 21,980 cases of ovarian cancer with 14,270 deaths in the United States. The ovary is a complex and dynamic organ and, between the ages of approximately 11 and 50 years, is responsible for follicle maturation associated with egg maturation, ovulation, and cyclical sex steroid hormone production. These complex and linked biologic functions are coordinated through a variety of cells within the ovary, each of which possesses neoplastic potential. By far the most common and most lethal of the ovarian neoplasms arise from the ovarian epithelium or, alternatively, the neighboring specialized epithelium of the fallopian tube, uterine corpus, or cervix. Epithelial tumors may be benign (50%), malignant (33%), or of borderline malignancy (16%). Age influences risk of malignancy; tumors in younger women are more likely benign. The most common of the ovarian epithelial malignancies are serous tumors (50%); tumors of mucinous (25%), endometrioid (15%), clear cell (5%), and transitional cell histology or Brenner tumor (1%) represent smaller proportions of epithelial ovarian tumors. In contrast, stromal tumors arise from the steroid hormone–producing cells and likewise have different phenotypes and clinical presentations largely dependent on the type and quantity of hormone production. Tumors arising in the germ cell are most similar in biology and behavior to testicular tumors in males (Chap. 45).

Tumors may also metastasize to the ovary from breast, colon, appendiceal, gastric, and pancreatic primaries. Bilateral ovarian masses from metastatic mucin-secreting gastrointestinal cancers are termed Krukenberg tumors.


Epidemiology and pathogenesis

A female has approximately a 1 in 72 lifetime risk (1.6%) of developing ovarian cancer, with the majority of affected women developing epithelial tumors. Each of the histologic variants of epithelial tumors is distinct with unique molecular features. As a group of malignancies, epithelial tumors of the ovary have a peak incidence in women in their sixties, although age at presentation can range across the extremes of adult life, with cases being reported in women in their twenties to nineties. Each histologic subtype of ovarian cancer likely has its own associated risk factors. Serous cancer, the most common type of epithelial ovarian cancer, is seen with increased frequency in women who are nulliparous or have a history of use of talc agents applied to the perineum; other risk factors include obesity and probably hormone replacement therapy. Protective factors include the use of oral contraceptives, multiparity, and breast-feeding. These protective factors are thought to work through suppression of ovulation and perhaps the associated reduction of ovulation associated ...

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