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Epithelial carcinoma of the ovary, fallopian tube, and peritoneum: Histopathology

Mara H Rendi, MD, PhD
Section Editors
Barbara Goff, MD
Rochelle L Garcia, MD
Don S Dizon, MD, FACP
Deputy Editor
Sandy J Falk, MD, FACOG


Epithelial carcinoma is the most common histologic type of cancer of the ovary, fallopian tube, and peritoneum, accounting for 90 percent of all cancers at these sites [1,2]. Ovarian carcinoma is traditionally referred to as a single entity, but it consists of a heterogeneous group of neoplasms with multiple histologic subtypes [3].

Current management of these neoplasms is largely dependent upon factors such as tumor grade and stage. It is important, however, to accurately subclassify these neoplasms, since each is a biologically different disease with different epidemiologic and genetic risk factors, precursor lesions, patterns of spread, molecular biology, response to therapy, and prognosis [4,5]. Moreover, as new therapies are developed, it will be essential to determine which subtypes of ovarian, fallopian tubal, and peritoneal carcinomas respond to which treatment modalities.

The incidence, histopathology, and molecular biology of histologic subtypes of epithelial ovarian, fallopian tubal, and peritoneal carcinomas and borderline neoplasms will be reviewed here. The pathogenesis, diagnosis, and treatment of these neoplasms are discussed in detail separately. (See "Pathogenesis of ovarian, fallopian tubal, and peritoneal serous carcinomas" and "Epithelial carcinoma of the ovary, fallopian tube, and peritoneum: Clinical features and diagnosis".)


Currently, based upon histopathology, immunohistochemistry, and molecular genetic analysis, the five main subtypes of epithelial ovarian, fallopian tubal, and peritoneal carcinomas and their relative proportions are [3]:

High-grade serous carcinoma (HGSC; 70 to 80 percent)

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