Background: The understanding of ovarian cancer pathogenesis has recently shifted to recognize distinct changes in how ovarian cancer histotypes are defined. Using the 2014 World Health Organization (WHO) diagnostic guidelines, we classified ovarian cancer histotypes in Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) cancer registry data and examined survival patterns by histotype and disease stage.
Methods: We extracted data on 28 118 incident epithelial ovarian cancer cases diagnosed in 2004-2014 from SEER and defined histotype using the 2014 WHO guidelines (high-grade serous, low-grade serous, endometrioid, clear cell, mucinous, carcinosarcoma, and malignant Brenner tumors). By histotype and disease stage, we estimated Kaplan-Meier survival curves and calculated age-adjusted overall and cause-specific survival estimates. Cox proportional hazards regression models were used to estimate histotype-specific hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) by disease stage while adjusting for age at diagnosis, region, race/ethnicity, and receipt of surgery.
Results: Within two years after diagnosis, localized/regional-stage carcinosarcoma and distant-stage mucinous, clear cell, and carcinosarcoma had a higher risk of mortality compared with high-grade serous, with the most pronounced association for localized/regional carcinosarcoma (>1-2-year time period: HR = 3.81, 95% CI = 2.74 to 5.30) and distant-stage mucinous (0-1-year time period: HR = 3.87, 95% CI = 3.45 to 4.34). In the time period more than four to 10 years after diagnosis, hazard ratios for all histotypes relative to high-grade serous, irrespective of disease stage, were less than 1.00. Cumulatively, both localized/regional and distant-stage low-grade serous and endometrioid carcinomas had the most favorable outcomes.
Conclusions: Our large study, which is representative of the United States population and incorporates the most current knowledge of ovarian cancer pathogenesis, highlights the need to recognize ovarian cancer as a set of distinct diseases and not a single entity. Only then will we be able to effectively target the unique features of each histotype to reduce ovarian cancer mortality.