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High-grade serous carcinoma is the most common and devastating type of ovarian cancer; its etiology, mechanism of malignant transformation, and origin remain controversial. Recent studies have identified secretory cells at the fimbria of the fallopian tube as the cell-of-origin of high-grade serous carcinoma, acquiring TP53 mutation, evolving to tubal precursor lesions, including "p53 signature" and serous tubal intraepithelial carcinoma, and metastasizing to the ovary as clinically evident ovarian cancer. The etiological mechanisms associated with known epidemiological risk factors, i.e., ovulation and retrograde menstruation, have also been suggested. Mutagens and transforming growth factors, such as reactive oxygen species and insulin-like growth factor axis proteins, as well as the apoptosis-rescuing protein hemoglobin are abundantly present in the ovulatory follicular fluid and peritoneum fluid, which bathes the fimbrial epithelium, and induces malignant transformation after repeated exposure. In accordance with the proposed cleansing effect of progesterone from studies on oral contraceptive use or term pregnancy, a recent study indicated that the p53-null tubal epithelial cells are selectively cleared by progesterone depending on its progesterone receptor. In this report, by analyzing different time effects of oral contraceptive use or pregnancy in the prevention of ovarian cancer and by aligning them with the carcinogenic and cleansing clearance concepts of ovulation and progesterone, as well as the fact of progressive loss of progesterone receptor during tubal transformation, we deduced the natural history of ovarian high-grade serous carcinoma. The natural history begins at the first ovulation and spans for more than 30 years, taking 10 years from the normal tubal epithelium to the "p53 signature" status, another 15 years to progesterone receptor negative serous tubal intraepithelial carcinoma, and a final 5+ years to high-grade serous carcinoma. The estimated natural history may help understand the pathogenesis of high-grade serous carcinoma and defines the window for early detection and chemoprevention.


Na-Yi Yuan Wu, Chao Fang, Hsuan-Shun Huang, Jing Wang, Tang-Yuan Chu. Natural history of ovarian high-grade serous carcinoma from time effects of ovulation inhibition and progesterone clearance of p53-defective lesions. Modern pathology : an official journal of the United States and Canadian Academy of Pathology, Inc. 2020 Jan;33(1):29-37

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PMID: 31558785

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