Clear cell carcinoma of the ovary: is there a role of histology-specific treatment?

J Exp Clin Cancer Res. 2012 Jun 1;31(1):53. doi: 10.1186/1756-9966-31-53.


Several clinical trials to establish standard treatment modality for ovarian cancers included a high abundance of patients with serous histologic tumors, which were quite sensitive to platinum-based chemotherapy. On the other hand, ovarian tumor with rare histologic subtypes such as clear cell or mucinous tumors have been recognized to show chemo-resistant phenotype, leading to poorer prognosis. Especially, clear cell carcinoma of the ovary (CCC) is a distinctive tumor, deriving from endometriosis or clear cell adenofibroma, and response rate to platinum-based therapy is extremely low. It was implied that complete surgical staging enabled us to distinguish a high risk group of recurrence in CCC patients whose disease was confined to the ovary (pT1M0); however, complete surgical staging procedures could not lead to improved survival. Moreover, the status of peritoneal cytology was recognized as an independent prognostic factor in early-staged CCC patients, even after complete surgical staging. In advanced cases with CCC, the patients with no residual tumor had significantly better survival than those with the tumor less than 1 cm or those with tumor diameter more than 1 cm. Therefore, the importance of achieving no macroscopic residual disease at primary surgery is so important compared with other histologic subtypes. On the other hand, many studies have shown that conventional platinum-based chemotherapy regimens yielded a poorer prognosis in patients with CCC than in patients with serous subtypes. The response rate by paclitaxel plus carboplatin (TC) was slightly higher, ranging from 22% to 56%, which was not satisfactory enough. Another regimen for CCC tumors is now being explored: irinotecan plus cisplatin, and molecular targeting agents. In this review article, we discuss the surgical issues for early-staged and advanced CCC including possibility of fertility-sparing surgery, and the chemotherapy for CCC disease.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma, Clear Cell / drug therapy*
  • Adenocarcinoma, Clear Cell / pathology*
  • Adenocarcinoma, Clear Cell / surgery
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Fertility Preservation
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / surgery