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Serous Tubal Intraepithelial Carcinoma Localizes to the Tubal-peritoneal Junction: A Pivotal Clue to the Site of Origin of Extrauterine High-grade Serous Carcinoma (Ovarian Cancer)

Seidman, Jeffrey D. M.D.

International Journal of Gynecological Pathology: March 2015 - Volume 34 - Issue 2 - p 112–120
doi: 10.1097/PGP.0000000000000123

Recent data suggest that intraepithelial carcinoma of the fallopian tube [serous tubal intraepithelial carcinoma (STIC)] is the precursor of high-grade extrauterine serous carcinoma. A more specific location for the origin of this lesion is suggested by the recently described junction between the fallopian tubal epithelium and the peritoneum [tubal-peritoneal junction (TPJ)]. Fallopian tubes from 202 patients with advanced-stage high-grade extrauterine serous carcinoma or carcinosarcoma were evaluated histologically as were 124 prophylactic salpingo-oophorectomy specimens. These included 54 patients with BRCA or other high-risk mutation or a family history of BRCA mutation and 70 with a personal or family history of breast carcinoma. STIC was found in 81 of 202 patients with serous carcinoma (40.1%). STIC was present in 73 of 141 (52%) cases in which the fimbriae were present and in 62 of 100 (62%) cases in which the TPJ was present (P not significant). In comparison with these groups, when fimbriae and TPJ were absent, STIC was found in 8 of 61 (13%) cases (P<0.0001). None of the prophylactic specimens contained STIC. The mean size of STIC was 1.7 mm. In 32 cases (39.5%), the lesion was flat and in 49 (60.5%), papillary. The mean size of flat STICs was 0.8 mm as compared with 2.3 mm for papillary STICs (P=0.00005). STIC was identified in the same tissue fragment as the junction in 48 cases. The mean distance of STIC to the junction was 1.8 mm. In 11 cases, STIC was flanked by peritoneal mesothelium on one side and tubal epithelium on the opposite side. In 51 patients, the mean distance of invasive carcinoma from the TPJ was 1.8 mm. This distance was 1.9 mm when STIC was present (37 cases) in comparison with 1.5 mm when STIC was absent (14 cases) (P not significant). In 27 of 42 cases (64%), STIC was contiguous with invasive carcinoma. Lamina propria invasion was present in 71% of cases in which STIC was present as compared with 26% of cases in which STIC was absent (P<0.0001). Myosalpingeal invasion was present in 40% of cases in which STIC was present as compared with 26% of cases in which STIC was absent (P not significant). It is concluded that serous tubal intraepithelial carcinoma occurs at and in the immediate vicinity of the TPJ. In combination with the findings that STICs are present in a majority of cases when the TPJ is present, that flat STICs are smaller than papillary STICs, and that lamina propria invasion is more frequent in the presence of STIC, these data support STIC as the precursor of extrauterine high-grade serous carcinoma, they provide important clues to the site of origin of high-grade serous carcinoma (ovarian cancer), and can guide further research.

Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Washington Hospital Center, Washington, District of Columbia

This work is unrelated to Dr Seidman’s employment with the FDA. The opinions and assertions contained herein are the private views of the author and are not to be construed as official or as reflecting the views of the US FDA or any other part of the US government.

The author declares no conflict of interest.

Address correspondence to Jeffrey D. Seidman, MD, Pathology and Cytology Branch, Division of Immunology and Hematology Devices, Office of In Vitro Diagnostics and Radiological Health, Center for Devices and Radiological Health, Food and Drug Administration, 10903 New Hampshire Ave., Silver Spring, MD 20993. E-mail:

©2015International Society of Gynecological Pathologists