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Ovarian Low Malignant Potential Tumors Treatment (PDQ®)

Advanced-Stage Ovarian Low Malignant Potential Tumors

Patients with advanced disease should undergo a total hysterectomy, bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy, omentectomy, node sampling, and aggressive cytoreductive surgery. Patients with stage III or IV disease with no gross residual tumor have had a 100% survival rate in some series regardless of the follow-up duration.[1,2] The 7-year survival rate of patients with gross residual disease was only 69% in a large series [3] and appears to be inversely proportional to the length of follow-up.[3]

For patients with more advanced-stage disease and microscopic or gross residual disease, chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy are not indicated. Scant evidence exists that postoperative chemotherapy or radiation therapy alters the course of this disease in any beneficial way.[1,3-6] In a study of 364 patients without residual tumor, adjuvant therapy had no effect on disease-free or corrected survival when stratified for disease stage.[7] Patients without residual tumor who received no adjuvant treatment had a survival rate equal to or greater than the treated groups. Currently, no controlled studies have compared postoperative treatment with no treatment.

In a review of 150 patients with borderline ovarian tumors, the survival of patients with a residual tumor of less than 2 cm was significantly better than survival for those with a residual tumor from 2 to 5 cm and more than 5 cm.[8] Whether invasive implants imply a worse prognosis remains an unsettled question. Some investigators have correlated invasive implants with poor prognosis, [9] while others have not.[2,10] Some studies have suggested that it may be possible to use DNA ploidy of the tumors to identify those patients who will develop aggressive disease.[11,12] A study could not correlate DNA ploidy of the primary serous tumor with survival but found that aneuploid invasive implants were associated with a poor prognosis.[13] Currently, no evidence indicates that treatment of patients with aneuploid tumors would have an impact on survival. No significant association was found between p53 and HER-2/neu overexpression and tumor recurrence or survival.[14]

In the face of clinical progression, further tumor reductive surgery followed by chemotherapy is certainly indicated. If the symptom-free interval is long, using chemotherapy after a secondary cytoreductive procedure is not advisable. If, on the other hand, the disease symptomatically recurs rapidly, chemotherapy may be beneficial. Reports have surgically documented the efficacy of chemotherapy on some patients with microscopic or gross residual disease.[15,16] A Gynecologic Oncology Group study used melphalan chemotherapy for patients with progressive disease and used cisplatin for melphalan failures.[17]

Current Clinical Trials

Check for U.S. clinical trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients with stage III borderline ovarian surface epithelial-stromal tumor and stage IV 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. Barnhill D, Heller P, Brzozowski P, et al.: Epithelial ovarian carcinoma of low malignant potential. Obstet Gynecol 65 (1): 53-9, 1985. [PUBMED Abstract]
  2. Bostwick DG, Tazelaar HD, Ballon SC, et al.: Ovarian epithelial tumors of borderline malignancy. A clinical and pathologic study of 109 cases. Cancer 58 (9): 2052-65, 1986. [PUBMED Abstract]
  3. 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]
  4. 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]
  5. Tumors of the ovary: neoplasms derived from coelomic epithelium. In: Morrow CP, Curtin JP: Synopsis of Gynecologic Oncology. 5th ed. New York, NY: Churchill Livingstone, 1998, pp 233-281.
  6. Sutton GP, Bundy BN, Omura GA, et al.: Stage III ovarian tumors of low malignant potential treated with cisplatin combination therapy (a Gynecologic Oncology Group study). Gynecol Oncol 41 (3): 230-3, 1991. [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. Tamakoshi K, Kikkawa F, Nakashima N, et al.: Clinical behavior of borderline ovarian tumors: a study of 150 cases. J Surg Oncol 64 (2): 147-52, 1997. [PUBMED Abstract]
  9. Bell DA, Scully RE: Serous borderline tumors of the peritoneum. Am J Surg Pathol 14 (3): 230-9, 1990. [PUBMED Abstract]
  10. Michael H, Roth LM: Invasive and noninvasive implants in ovarian serous tumors of low malignant potential. Cancer 57 (6): 1240-7, 1986. [PUBMED Abstract]
  11. Friedlander ML, Hedley DW, Swanson C, et al.: Prediction of long-term survival by flow cytometric analysis of cellular DNA content in patients with advanced ovarian cancer. J Clin Oncol 6 (2): 282-90, 1988. [PUBMED Abstract]
  12. Kaern J, Trope C, Kjorstad KE, et al.: Cellular DNA content as a new prognostic tool in patients with borderline tumors of the ovary. Gynecol Oncol 38 (3): 452-7, 1990. [PUBMED Abstract]
  13. de Nictolis M, Montironi R, Tommasoni S, et al.: Serous borderline tumors of the ovary. A clinicopathologic, immunohistochemical, and quantitative study of 44 cases. Cancer 70 (1): 152-60, 1992. [PUBMED Abstract]
  14. Eltabbakh GH, Belinson JL, Kennedy AW, et al.: p53 and HER-2/neu overexpression in ovarian borderline tumors. Gynecol Oncol 65 (2): 218-24, 1997. [PUBMED Abstract]
  15. Fort MG, Pierce VK, Saigo PE, et al.: Evidence for the efficacy of adjuvant therapy in epithelial ovarian tumors of low malignant potential. Gynecol Oncol 32 (3): 269-72, 1989. [PUBMED Abstract]
  16. Gershenson DM, Silva EG: Serous ovarian tumors of low malignant potential with peritoneal implants. Cancer 65 (3): 578-85, 1990. [PUBMED Abstract]
  17. Barnhill DR, Kurman RJ, Brady MF, et al.: Preliminary analysis of the behavior of stage I ovarian serous tumors of low malignant potential: a Gynecologic Oncology Group study. J Clin Oncol 13 (11): 2752-6, 1995. [PUBMED Abstract]
  • Updated: February 25, 2015