Expert Reviews in Molecular Medicine

Review Article

Critical molecular abnormalities in high-grade serous carcinoma of the ovary

Martin Köbela1a2, David Huntsmana1 and C. Blake Gilksa1 c1

a1 Genetic Pathology Evaluation Centre of the Prostate Research Centre, Department of Pathology, Vancouver General Hospital and British Columbia Cancer Agency, Vancouver BC, Canada.

a2 Institute of Pathology, Charité Hospital, Berlin 10117, Germany.


Ovarian carcinomas show more morphological heterogeneity than adenocarcinomas of any other body site. It has recently become clear that the morphologically defined subtypes of ovarian carcinoma are distinct diseases, with different risk factors, molecular events during oncogenesis, likelihood of spread, responses to chemotherapy, and outcomes. This review focuses on molecular abnormalities (in genes expressing BRCA1/2, TP53 and RB1/CCND1/CDKN2A/E2F) found in high-grade serous carcinomas of the ovary, which account for most ovarian cancer deaths. These highly aggressive but chemosensitive tumours are associated with perturbation of molecular pathways leading to genomic instability and extreme mutability and present unique challenges in oncological research and practice.


c1 Corresponding author: C. Blake Gilks, Department of Pathology, Room 1207 1st floor JPPN, Vancouver General Hospital, 855 West 12th Ave, Vancouver, BC, Canada, V5Z 1M9. Tel.: +1 (604) 875 4901; Fax: +1 (604) 875 4797; E-mail: