The new WHO classification of ovarian, fallopian tube, and primary peritoneal cancer and its clinical implications

Ivo Meinhold-Heerlein*, Christina Fotopoulou, Philipp Harter, Christian Kurzeder, Alexander Mustea, Pauline Wimberger, Steffen Hauptmann, Jalid Sehouli

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Molecular pathological research has contributed to improving the knowledge of different subtypes of ovarian cancer. In parallel with the implementation of the new FIGO staging classification, the WHO classification was revised. The latter is mainly based on the histopathological findings and defines the actual type of tumor. It has, therefore, also an important impact on prognosis and therapy of the patient.The new WHO Classification of Ovarian Cancer published 2014 by Robert Kurman and co-authors is summarized. The major changes compared to the hitherto existing classification are presented.The new classification eliminates the previous focus of mesothelial origin of ovarian cancer. Instead, it features a discussion of tubal carcinogenesis of hereditary and some other high-grade serous carcinomas. The previously assumed pathogenesis pathway may be correct for some, but not for all, serous cancers. The new classification was established to classify ovarian cancer in a more consistent way. The earlier transitional cell type of ovarian cancer has been removed while seromucinous tumors have been added as a new entity. The role of some borderline tumors as one possible step in the progression from benign to invasive lesions is incorporated. The article summarizes the essential updates concerning serous, mucinous, seromucinous, endometrioid, clear-cell, and Brenner tumors.The new WHO classification takes into account the recent findings on the origin, pathogenesis, and prognosis of different ovarian cancer subtypes. The tubal origin of hereditary and some non-hereditary high-grade serous cancers is mentioned in contrast to the hitherto theory of mesothelial origin of tumors. Seromucinous tumors represent a new entity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)695-700
JournalArchives of Gynecology and Obstetrics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2016


  • High-grade serous
  • Low-grade serous
  • Endometrioid
  • Mucinous
  • Clear cell

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