Serous tumor

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]


Serous tumours are part of the surface epithelial-stromal tumour group of ovarian neoplasms. They are common neoplasms with a strong tendency to bilaterality.


  • Benign serous tumours
  • borderline lesions
  • Malignant serous tumours


  • Benign serous tumours are unilocular (consist of one lobe); however if very large may be multilocular, contain clear fluid and have a smooth lining composed of columnar epithelial cells with cilia. Surgery is curative.
  • In borderline lesions, the cyst or surface is lined by papillary structures, which are often very complex. Surgery is usually curative.

Microscopically, stromal papillae are covered by atypical epithelial cells, but stromal invasion is absent, nuclear stratification is present.

  • Malignant serous tumours are solid, may be cystic and often show hemorrhage and necrosis. They are lined by a complex papillary pattern with presence of nuclear anaplasia.

Serous carcinomas often have bulky peritoneal and omental metastases, and spread to the lymph nodes is frequent.

Epidemiology and Demographics

Serous tumours account for 30% of all ovarian tumours. Sixty percent are benign, 10% are borderline and 30% are malignant.

Natural History, Complications, and Prognosis

Unsurprisingly, 5-year survival decreases as the stage increases. There is a 25% survival rate with a stage III serous carcinoma.



  • Stage I - Tumor growth limited to ovaries.
  • Stage II - Growth involving one or both ovaries with pelvic extension.
  • Stage III - Tumor involving one or both ovaries with implants outside pelvis.
  • Stage IV- Tumor involving one or both ovaries with presence of distant metastasis.


Surgery and Device Based Therapy

Surgery is curative.


See also