Incidence of metastasis to the ovaries from nongenital tract primary tumors

Gynecol Oncol. 2004 Apr;93(1):87-91. doi: 10.1016/j.ygyno.2003.12.039.


Objectives: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the characteristics of metastatic tumors to the ovaries in nongenital tract primaries and to determine the route of dissemination.

Methods: An IRB-approved study retrospectively reviewed patient records from January 1992 to January 2003. A tumor registry and pathology database search identified women with metastatic disease to the ovaries that had undergone surgery for the presence of an adnexal mass. The charts were reviewed for age at diagnosis, presenting symptoms, size of ovarian metastasis, laterality of metastasis, and primary tumor site. Pathology reports and specimen slides were reviewed to confirm the diagnosis and evaluate the tumors for various pathological features.

Results: A total of 59 cases of metastasis to the ovary were identified. The median age of the study group was 55 years old (range: 27-78). Primary colon cancer was identified in 19 (32.2%) cases; appendix 12 (20.3%); breast 5 (8.4%); small bowel and gastric each contributed 4 (6.8%) cases. Pancreatic cancer added 3 (5.1%), while gallbladder and urinary bladder each contributed 1 (1.7%) case. Tumors of unknown primary contributed 10 (18.5%) of the cases. Stromal invasion was seen in 56 (95%) of the cases and surface involvement in 9 (15%) cases. Bilateral metastasis was found in 39 (66.1%) patients and unilateral metastasis in 20 (33.9%) patients.

Conclusions: Metastatic lesions to the ovary are more commonly seen from primary colon cancer, appendiceal, and breast carcinomas. The mechanism of metastasis is through hematogenous pathways as opposed to a transserosal route.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Appendiceal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Colonic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Middle Aged
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / pathology
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / secondary*
  • Stomach Neoplasms / pathology