Ovarian serous tumours

Ovarian serous neoplasm is one of two commonest subtypes of epithelial ovarian tumour, the other being a mucinous ovarian tumour.

They are subdivided according to their malignant potential and clinical behaviour into:

Approximately 60% are benign and ~15% of borderline malignancy; These occur most commonly in women or reproductive age. The malignant tumours comprise of 25% of cases and tend to occur in older patients.  

Like all ovarian epithelial neoplasms, they are derived from coelomic mesothelium. In the case of the serous tumours, this differentiates into tubal epithelium. 

In contrast, the formation of mucinous tumours results from the coelomic mesothelium evolving into cervix epithelium, and the formation of endometrioid tumours – into endometrial epithelium.

In general, the cell type (e.g. serous, mucinous) often cannot be determined on the basis of appearance at MR imaging, CT, or ultrasound 3

Imaging evaluation may be performed with ultrasound, CT or MRI.

Serous ovarian tumours are typically smaller than mucinous tumours on presentation.  They are typically unilocular and homogeneous. They are often bilateral, and this is particularly so for the malignant subtypes. Psammomatous calcification is a feature of serous, but not mucinous subtypes. 

Features that suggest a malignant over a benign cystic neoplasm include: 

  • thick irregular walls and septa
  • papillary projections
  • large soft tissue component
  • ascites
  • evidence of invasive spread or adenopathy

Considerations include:

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Article information

rID: 13395
System: Gynaecology
Section: Pathology
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Serous tumours of the ovary
  • Serous tumors of the ovary
  • Ovarian serous tumors
  • Ovarian serous tumor
  • Ovarian serous tumour

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Cases and figures

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    Serous Cystadenom...
    Case 1: ovarian serous cystadenoma
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    Serous cystadenoc...
    Case 2: ovarian serous cystadenocarcinoma
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    There is a multil...
    Case 3: ovarian serous cystadenofibroma : US
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    Case 3: ovarian serous cystadenofibroma : MRI
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    Bilateral complex...
    Case 4: bilateral serous cystadenocarcinoma
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