Ovarian cancers of low malignant potential

Stephen C. Rubin, MD
Last Modified: May 12, 2002


Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"
I am a 34 year old who has just been diagnosed with borderline malignancy tumor of the ovaries. I am getting married in 3 weeks and while this is very overwhelming I am concerned with my potential to have children. What is known about borderline malignancy tumors and the ability to conceive? Is there a waiting period? What threat does this pose to the potential unborn fetus? I have many questions, but any information you can provide would greatly help.  


Stephen C. Rubin, MD, Professor and Chief of the Division of Gynecologic Oncology, University of Pennsylvania Health System, responds:

Ovarian cancers of low malignant potential, also known as borderline tumors, constitute about 10-20% of all ovarian malignancies. They are very slow growing, non-aggressive malignancies that are typically diagnosed early, in women in their 30's and 40's. Complete surgical staging, including lymph node biopsies, is important to determine the outlook and appropriate treatment.

For patients with stage I borderline tumors, no further treatment is needed, as the likelihood of complete cure is excellent with surgery alone. There is no need to wait to conceive, and there is no threat to the fetus. For certain patients with advanced stage disease, chemotherapy may be needed. If you have not already done so, it would be wise to seek consultation with a gynecologic oncologist.