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Epithelial carcinoma of the ovary, fallopian tube, and peritoneum: Epidemiology and risk factors

Lee-may Chen, MD
Jonathan S Berek, MD, MMS
Section Editors
Barbara Goff, MD
Don S Dizon, MD, FACP
Deputy Editor
Sandy J Falk, MD, FACOG


Ovarian cancer is the second most common gynecologic malignancy and the most common cause of gynecologic cancer death in the United States [1]. The majority of ovarian malignancies (95 percent) are derived from epithelial cells; the remainder arise from other ovarian cell types (germ cell tumors, sex cord-stromal tumors) (figure 1) [2].

Serous carcinoma, the most common histologic subtype of epithelial ovarian carcinoma, is regarded as closely related to fallopian tubal and peritoneal serous carcinoma, based upon similarities in histology and clinical behavior [3]. Other histologic types of epithelial ovarian cancer include endometrioid, clear cell, and mucinous. Some experts have proposed that serous carcinomas all originate in the fallopian tubes. This is based upon studies that detected fallopian tubal intraepithelial carcinoma in the fimbria of BRCA mutation carriers following risk-reducing bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy. The role of this neoplasm in subsequent progression to invasive cancer of the ovary, peritoneum, or fallopian tube has been suggested but not proven [4]. In addition, some data suggest that peritoneal carcinoma originates in the fallopian tubes [5,6]. Based upon their common features, these carcinomas will be discussed as one clinical entity in this topic review. Distinctions between these conditions will also be addressed. (See "Pathogenesis of ovarian, fallopian tubal, and peritoneal serous carcinomas".)

The epidemiology and risk factors of epithelial ovarian, fallopian tubal, and peritoneal carcinoma are reviewed here. An overview of these neoplasms can be found separately (see "Overview of epithelial carcinoma of the ovary, fallopian tube, and peritoneum"). Related topics are discussed in detail separately, including:

Pathogenesis (See "Pathogenesis of ovarian, fallopian tubal, and peritoneal serous carcinomas".)

Histopathology (See "Epithelial carcinoma of the ovary, fallopian tube, and peritoneum: Histopathology".)


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