Occult carcinoma in prophylactic oophorectomy specimens: prevalence and association with BRCA germline mutation status

Am J Surg Pathol. 2001 Oct;25(10):1283-9. doi: 10.1097/00000478-200110000-00009.


Prophylactic oophorectomy (PO) is an option for women at increased risk for ovarian carcinoma. In this study the value of intensive pathologic examination of PO specimens and accompanying resected tissues in the identification of occult carcinoma and any association of occult carcinoma with BRCA germline mutation status were ascertained. Specimens from 60 consecutive PO patients, who were not suspected of having any ovarian tumor at the time of surgery, were subjected to standardized, complete pathologic examination in a prospective study over an 8-year period. Extra-ovarian tissues were examined as well, but they were not subject to the same standardized protocol. Any occult carcinoma of the ovaries or fallopian tubes was noted. The BRCA status and follow-up of patients were obtained, if available. Fifty-five of the 60 PO specimens did not show any evidence of malignancy. Of the 32 patients in this group followed for >1 year, all are alive and well. The remaining five patients, all BRCA1 mutation positive, showed occult carcinoma of the ovaries and/or in situ or invasive carcinoma of a fallopian tube. One of these five patients has died of abdominal carcinomatosis; four continue to be well, but follow-up is <4 years in all cases. Occult carcinoma is present in a small proportion of BRCA-positive or unknown PO patients and may be of prognostic significance. The entire ovaries and tubes from PO patients should be submitted for histologic examination to identify malignancy.

MeSH terms

  • Cystadenocarcinoma, Papillary / genetics
  • Cystadenocarcinoma, Papillary / pathology*
  • Cystadenocarcinoma, Papillary / surgery
  • DNA, Neoplasm / analysis
  • Fallopian Tube Neoplasms / genetics
  • Fallopian Tube Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Fallopian Tube Neoplasms / surgery
  • Fallopian Tubes / pathology
  • Female
  • Genes, BRCA1
  • Genes, BRCA2
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Mutation
  • Omentum / pathology
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / genetics
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / surgery
  • Ovariectomy*
  • Ovary / pathology
  • Prospective Studies
  • RNA, Neoplasm / analysis
  • Uterus / pathology


  • DNA, Neoplasm
  • RNA, Neoplasm