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Disease Markers
Volume 23 (2007), Issue 5-6, Pages 367-376

Etiology and Pathogenesis of Epithelial Ovarian Cancer

Samuel C. Mok,1,2 Joseph Kwong,1 William R. Welch,3 Goli Samimi,4,5 Laurent Ozbun,4 Tomas Bonome,4 Michael J. Birrer,4 Ross S. Berkowitz,1,2 and Kwong-Kwok Wong6

1Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Biology, Laboratory of Gynecologic Oncology, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA
2Gillette Center For Women’s Cancer, Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center, Boston, MA 02115, USA
3Department of Pathology, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA
4Cell and Cancer Biology Branch, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA
5Cancer Prevention Fellowship Program, Office of Preventative Oncology, Division of Cancer Prevention, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA
6Department of Gynecologic Oncology, The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX 77030, USA

Received 9 November 2007; Accepted 9 November 2007

Copyright © 2007 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Ovarian cancer is complex disease composed of different histological grades and types. However, the underlying molecular mechanisms involved in the development of different phenotypes remain largely unknown. Epidemiological studies identified multiple exogenous and endogenous risk factors for ovarian cancer development. Among them, an inflammatory stromal microenvironment seems to play a critical role in the initiation of the disease. The interaction between such a microenvironment, genetic polymorphisms, and different epithelial components such as endosalpingiosis, endometriosis, and ovarian inclusion cyst in the ovarian cortex may induce different genetic changes identified in the epithelial component of different histological types of ovarian tumors. Genetic studies on different histological grades and types provide insight into the pathogenetic pathways for the development of different disease phenotypes. However, the link between all these genetic changes and the etiological factors remains to be established.