Low-grade ovarian serous neoplasms (low-grade serous carcinoma and serous borderline tumor) associated with high-grade serous carcinoma or undifferentiated carcinoma: report of a series of cases of an unusual phenomenon

Clinton Boyd, W Glenn McCluggage
American Journal of Surgical Pathology 2012, 36 (3): 368-75
Recent literature has suggested a dual pathway of ovarian serous carcinogenesis, with most serous carcinomas falling into 1 of 2 categories, low grade and high grade. These are considered to represent 2 distinct tumor types with a different underlying pathogenesis and associated with different molecular events, clinical behavior, and prognosis. Low-grade serous carcinoma is thought to evolve in many instances from a preexisting serous borderline tumor and cystadenoma. Given the distinct pathogenesis and different molecular events, it is expected that the coexistence of low-grade and high-grade serous carcinoma would be rare or may even be mutually exclusive; moreover, there are very few reported examples in the literature. We report a series of 7 cases in patients aged 34 to 78 years in whom ovarian low-grade serous carcinoma (4 cases, including 3 with associated serous borderline tumor), serous borderline tumor (2 cases), or seromucinous borderline tumor (1 case) was associated with a high-grade carcinoma, either high-grade serous (5 cases) or undifferentiated carcinoma (2 cases). The low-grade and high-grade components coexisted in the original neoplasm in 4 cases, and the high-grade component was present only in recurrence in 3 cases. In both instances, the undifferentiated carcinoma had a focal rhabdoid morphology, and alternative primary sites of tumor were excluded by a combination of clinical, radiologic, and pathologic parameters. We illustrate that low-grade serous carcinoma or serous borderline tumor ("low-grade" serous neoplasms) may rarely be associated with, and probably give rise to, a high-grade carcinoma, either high-grade serous or undifferentiated carcinoma. The coexistence of a low-grade serous neoplasm and undifferentiated carcinoma can be regarded as a form of dedifferentiation. p53 was diffusely positive in 4 of 6 high-grade carcinomas, which raises the possibility that secondary Tp53 mutation is important in high-grade transformation in some of these cases. WT1 was negative in the 2 undifferentiated carcinomas, and PAX8 was positive in 1, suggesting that the latter marker is more useful in helping to confirm a Mullerian origin in dedifferentiated low-grade serous neoplasms.

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