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Ovarian Low Malignant Potential Tumors Treatment (PDQ®)

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Early-Stage Ovarian Low Malignant Potential Tumors

The value of complete staging has not been demonstrated for early-stage cases, but the opposite ovary should be carefully evaluated for evidence of bilateral disease. Although the impact of surgical staging on therapeutic management is not defined, in a study, 7 of 27 patients with presumed localized disease were upstaged following complete surgical staging.[1] In two other studies, 16% and 18% of patients with presumed localized tumors of low malignant potential were upstaged as a result of a staging laparotomy.[2,3] In one of these studies, the yield for serous tumors was 30.8% compared with 0% for mucinous tumors.[4] In another study, patients with localized intraperitoneal disease and negative lymph nodes had a low incidence of recurrence (5%), whereas patients with localized intraperitoneal disease and positive lymph nodes had a statistically significantly higher incidence of recurrence (50%).[5]

In early-stage disease (stage I or II), no additional treatment is indicated for a completely resected tumor of low malignant potential.[6] When a patient wishes to retain childbearing potential, a unilateral salpingo-oophorectomy is adequate therapy.[7,8] In the presence of bilateral ovarian cystic neoplasms, or a single ovary, a partial oophorectomy can be employed when fertility is desired by the patient.[9] Some physicians stress the importance of limiting ovarian cystectomy to stage IA patients in whom the margins of the cystectomy specimens are free of tumor.[4] In a large series, the relapse rate was higher with more conservative surgery (cystectomy > unilateral oophorectomy > TAH, BSO); differences, however, were not statistically significant, and survival was nearly 100% for all groups.[5,10] When childbearing is not a consideration, a total abdominal hysterectomy and bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy is appropriate therapy. Once a woman has completed her family, most, but not all,[4] physicians favor removal of remaining ovarian tissue as it is at risk of recurrence of a borderline tumor, or even rarely, a carcinoma.[2,7]

Current Clinical Trials

Check for U.S. clinical trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients with stage I borderline ovarian surface epithelial-stromal tumor and stage II borderline ovarian surface epithelial-stromal tumor. The list of clinical trials can be further narrowed by location, drug, intervention, and other criteria.

General information about clinical trials is also available from the NCI Web site.


  1. Yazigi R, Sandstad J, Munoz AK: Primary staging in ovarian tumors of low malignant potential. Gynecol Oncol 31 (3): 402-8, 1988. [PUBMED Abstract]
  2. Snider DD, Stuart GC, Nation JG, et al.: Evaluation of surgical staging in stage I low malignant potential ovarian tumors. Gynecol Oncol 40 (2): 129-32, 1991. [PUBMED Abstract]
  3. Leake JF, Rader JS, Woodruff JD, et al.: Retroperitoneal lymphatic involvement with epithelial ovarian tumors of low malignant potential. Gynecol Oncol 42 (2): 124-30, 1991. [PUBMED Abstract]
  4. Piura B, Dgani R, Blickstein I, et al.: Epithelial ovarian tumors of borderline malignancy: a study of 50 cases. Int J Gynecol Cancer 2 (4): 189-197, 1992. [PUBMED Abstract]
  5. Leake JF, Currie JL, Rosenshein NB, et al.: Long-term follow-up of serous ovarian tumors of low malignant potential. Gynecol Oncol 47 (2): 150-8, 1992. [PUBMED Abstract]
  6. Tropé C, Kaern J, Vergote IB, et al.: Are borderline tumors of the ovary overtreated both surgically and systemically? A review of four prospective randomized trials including 253 patients with borderline tumors. Gynecol Oncol 51 (2): 236-43, 1993. [PUBMED Abstract]
  7. Kaern J, Tropé CG, Abeler VM: A retrospective study of 370 borderline tumors of the ovary treated at the Norwegian Radium Hospital from 1970 to 1982. A review of clinicopathologic features and treatment modalities. Cancer 71 (5): 1810-20, 1993. [PUBMED Abstract]
  8. Lim-Tan SK, Cajigas HE, Scully RE: Ovarian cystectomy for serous borderline tumors: a follow-up study of 35 cases. Obstet Gynecol 72 (5): 775-81, 1988. [PUBMED Abstract]
  9. Rice LW, Berkowitz RS, Mark SD, et al.: Epithelial ovarian tumors of borderline malignancy. Gynecol Oncol 39 (2): 195-8, 1990. [PUBMED Abstract]
  10. Casey AC, Bell DA, Lage JM, et al.: Epithelial ovarian tumors of borderline malignancy: long-term follow-up. Gynecol Oncol 50 (3): 316-22, 1993. [PUBMED Abstract]
  • Updated: February 25, 2015