What is the pathophysiology of epithelial ovarian tumors of low malignant potential (LMP)?

Updated: Aug 10, 2020
  • Author: Andrew E Green, MD; Chief Editor: Yukio Sonoda, MD  more...
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Answer

Tumors of low malignant potential (LMP), or borderline tumors, are a distinct variety of epithelial ovarian cancer that behave in a much less aggressive fashion and have a very favorable prognosis. These tumors cause great anxiety to patients, and the concept of LMP sometimes is difficult to explain. They comprise approximately 20% of malignant ovarian tumors. The mean age of diagnosis is younger than for invasive epithelial ovarian cancer, at approximately 48 years, and no large peak of incidence is observed.

These tumors are staged identically to epithelial ovarian cancer, using the FIGO (Fédération Internationale de Gynécologie et d'Obstétrique; International Federation of Obstetrics and Gynecology) system. In contrast to epithelial ovarian cancer, however, most LMP tumors are stage I at presentation, with a distribution as follows:

  • Stage IA: 51%
  • Stage IB: 6%
  • Stage IC: 18%
  • Stages II-III: 15%
  • Stage IV: 2%

LMP tumors can cause a range of symptoms similar to epithelial ovarian cancer, including increasing abdominal girth, an abdominal mass, abdominal pain, abnormal uterine bleeding, urinary symptoms, and gastrointestinal symptoms. They may be asymptomatic and found on routine physical examination or ultrasound scan.

For more information, see Borderline Ovarian Cancer.


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