Histologic, molecular, and cytogenetic features of ovarian cancers: Implications for diagnosis and treatment

Neeraj Lalwani, Srinivasa R. Prasad, Raghunandan Vikram, Alampady K. Shanbhogue, Phyllis C. Huettner, Najla Fasih

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

122 Scopus citations


Ovarian epithelial carcinoma (OEC), the most common ovarian malignancy, is a heterogeneous disease with several histologic subtypes that show characteristic cytogenetic features, molecular signatures, oncologic signaling pathways, and clinical-biologic behavior. Recent advances in histopathology and cytogenetics have provided insights into pathophysiologic features and natural history of OECs. Several studies have shown that high- or low-grade serous, endometrioid, and clear cell carcinomas are characterized by mutations involving the TP53, K-ras/BRAF, CTNNB1, and PIK3CA genes, respectively. High-grade serous carcinomas, the most common subtype, often manifest with early transcoelomic spread of disease beyond the ovaries, whereas lowgrade serous and mucinous carcinomas commonly manifest with early-stage disease, with a resultant excellent prognosis. On the basis of pathogenetic mechanisms, recent findings suggest a dualistic model of ovarian carcinogenesis consisting of types I and II. Type I (low-grade serous, mucinous, and endometrioid) cancers commonly arise from well-described, genetically stable precursor lesions (usually borderline tumors); manifest as large adnexal masses with early-stage disease; and have a relatively indolent clinical course, with an overall good prognosis. In contrast, type II carcinomas (high-grade serous, endometrioid, mixed, and undifferentiated variants) originate de novo from the adnexal epithelia, often demonstrate chromosomal instability, and have aggressive biologic behavior. Better knowledge of hereditary ovarian cancer syndromes and associated cytogenetic abnormalities has led to increased interest in novel biomarkers and molecular therapeutics. Genetic changes, pathologic features, imaging findings, and natural histories of a variety of histologic subtypes of OEC are discussed in this article.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)625-646
Number of pages22
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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