Presence of talc in pelvic lymph nodes of a woman with ovarian cancer and long-term genital exposure to cosmetic talc

Obstet Gynecol. 2007 Aug;110(2 Pt 2):498-501. doi: 10.1097/01.AOG.0000262902.80861.a0.


Background: Although epidemiologic studies suggest talc use may increase ovarian cancer risk, there is no proof that talc used externally reaches the pelvis.

Case: A 68-year-old woman with stage III ovarian papillary serous carcinoma revealed she had used talc daily for 30 years to powder her genital area. Examination of her pelvic lymph nodes under polarized light microscopy showed diffuse areas of birefringence compatible with talc, confirmed by scanning electron microscopy and X-ray spectroscopy.

Conclusion: This description of talc in pelvic lymph nodes of a woman with ovarian cancer and decades of exposure to talc may prompt new studies and offer new insights into the biologic basis for the consistent, but debated, association between talc use and ovarian cancer.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Carcinoma, Papillary / etiology*
  • Carcinoma, Papillary / pathology
  • Electron Probe Microanalysis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lymph Nodes / chemistry*
  • Lymph Nodes / pathology
  • Lymph Nodes / ultrastructure
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Microscopy, Polarization
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / pathology
  • Risk Factors
  • Talc / adverse effects*
  • Talc / analysis


  • Talc