, Volume 17, Issue 5, pp 623-632

Benign Epithelial Ovarian Tumours—cancer Precursors or Markers for Ovarian Cancer Risk?

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The natural history of the development of epithelial ovarian cancer remains obscure and no effective screening test exists. In several human malignancies progression from benign to invasive tumour occurs, but this sequence has not been established for epithelial ovarian cancer. We have reviewed epidemiological, histopathological and molecular studies of benign epithelial ovarian tumours to assess the evidence for and against such a progression in ovarian cancer. These data suggest that a diagnosis of a benign ovarian cyst or tumour is associated with an increased risk of ovarian cancer later in life. Current evidence also suggests that benign serous tumours can progress to low-grade serous cancer and that benign mucinous tumours can progress to mucinous cancer. The more common high-grade serous ovarian cancers are likely to arise de novo.