The pattern of estradiol and progesterone differs in serum and tissue of benign and malignant ovarian tumors

Int J Oncol. 2002 Sep;21(3):583-9.


Epidemiological studies have indicated a relationship between gonadal steroid hormones and ovarian cancer. A production of both estradiol and progesterone by ovarian cancers has been demonstrated. The local steroid concentrations and the putative relation to histopathological and clinical condition were investigated herein. Ovarian tissue, ovarian tumor cyst fluid, ovarian vein samples and peripheral serum concentrations of estradiol and progesterone in pre- and post-menopausal women, subdivided into groups with normal ovaries, benign, borderline and malignant ovarian tumors, were quantitatively assessed. Both ovarian tissue concentrations of estradiol and progesterone were more than 100-fold higher than in serum. Based on differences in concentrations between different ovarian tumor groups, the data is not coherent with the previously suggested increased production of estradiol and progesterone in ovarian cancer tissue, since post-menopausal women with ovarian cancer presented lower median tissue hormone levels, most pronounced between malignant and benign tumors; median (25 and 75 percentile) estradiol; 9.40 (6.67-15.50) vs 16.44 (12.49-23.20), p=0.02 and progesterone; 308 (240-575) vs 957 (553-1143) pmol/g wet weight, p<0.01, n=81. Lower concentrations of estradiol, but not progesterone, were found in ovarian cancer tissue, ovarian cyst fluid and peripheral serum in patients with FIGO stages 3 and 4 than in stages 1 and 2. The novel finding of a large ovarian tissue to serum difference of both estradiol and progesterone indicates an important role of ovarian tissue concentrations in tumor biology and raises the question of adequate doses of anti-hormonal therapy in women with ovarian cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cyst Fluid / metabolism
  • Estradiol / blood
  • Estradiol / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Ovarian Diseases / blood
  • Ovarian Diseases / metabolism
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / blood
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / pathology
  • Postmenopause / blood
  • Postmenopause / metabolism
  • Premenopause / blood
  • Premenopause / metabolism
  • Progesterone / blood
  • Progesterone / metabolism*
  • Prospective Studies


  • Progesterone
  • Estradiol