The biology of ovarian cancer

Semin Oncol. 1998 Jun;25(3):281-304.


The biology of ovarian cancer broadly defined covers essentially all aspects of the disease from how it arises to how it responds to chemotherapy, often becomes refractory to treatment, and ultimately kills the patient. In this article, we take the liberty of discussing many of these issues to some degree in context of the "natural/clinical" history/biology of the disease. We focus on concepts of how the disease develops, efforts to identify histologic changes that may precede the development of overt ovarian cancer, efforts to define how the growth and function of the normal ovarian surface epithelium are regulated to gain insights into how aberrant function of these pathways may contribute to the initiation of the disease, molecular biological studies on clinical ovarian cancer specimens, efforts to experimentally induce the malignant transformation of ovarian surface epithelial cells, and efforts to understand why ovarian cancer is often initially responsive to chemotherapy but ultimately becomes refractory.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic
  • DNA, Neoplasm / drug effects
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm
  • Epithelial Cells
  • Epithelium
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Genes, Tumor Suppressor
  • Humans
  • Mutation
  • Neoplasms, Glandular and Epithelial / drug therapy
  • Neoplasms, Glandular and Epithelial / etiology
  • Neoplasms, Glandular and Epithelial / genetics
  • Neoplasms, Glandular and Epithelial / pathology
  • Oncogenes
  • Ovarian Neoplasms* / drug therapy
  • Ovarian Neoplasms* / etiology
  • Ovarian Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Ovarian Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Ovary / cytology*
  • Ovary / physiology


  • DNA, Neoplasm