Endometriosis and ovarian cancer: A review of clinical, pathologic, and molecular aspects

Jian Jun Wei*, Josette William, Serdar Bulun

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

126 Scopus citations


Endometriosis is a chronic disease that affects millions of reproductive-age women. Despite the destructive and invasive nature of endometrioses, most cases are perpetually benign or eventually regress; however, atypical endometriosis is a precursor lesion and can lead to certain types of ovarian cancer. Endometriosis induced inflammation and auto- and paracrine production of sex steroid hormones contribute to ovarian tumorigenesis. These changes provide microenvironment necessary to accumulate enough genetic alterations for endometriosis associated malignant transformation. It takes years for endometriosis to undergo the pathophysiological progression that begins with atypical epithelial proliferation (atypical endometriosis and metaplasia), and then is followed by the formation of well-defined borderline tumors, and finally culminates in fully malignant ovarian cancer. This study is a review of the natural history of endometriosis and the role of microenvironments that favor the accumulation of genetic alterations and endometriosis-associated ovarian cancer progression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)553-568
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Gynecological Pathology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2011


  • Endometriosis
  • Genetic alterations
  • Inflammation
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Pathogenesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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