Of all gynecologic malignancies, ovarian cancer continues to have the
highest mortality and is the most difficult to diagnose. In the United States
female population, ovarian cancer ranks fifth in absolute mortality among
cancer related deaths (13,000/yr). In most reported cases, ovarian cancer,
when first diagnosed is in stages III or IV in about 60 to 70% of patients
which further complicates treatment of the disease (Barber, 3).
Early detection in ovarian cancer is hampered by the lack of appropriate
tumor markers and clinically, most patients fail to develop significant
symptoms until they reach advanced stage disease. The characteristics
of ovarian cancer have been studied in primary tumors and in established
ovarian tumor cell lines which provide a reproducible source of tumor material.
Among the major clinical problems of ovarian cancer, malignant progression,
rapid emergence of drug resistance, and associated cross-resistance remain
unresolved. Ovarian cancer has a high frequency of metastasis yet generally
remains localized within the peritoneal cavity.
Tumor development has been
associated with aberrant, dysfunctional expression and/or mutation of
various genes. This can include oncogene overexpression, amplification or
mutation, aberrant tumor suppressor expression or mutation. Also, subversion
of host antitumor immune responses may play a role in the pathogenesis of
cancer (Sharp, 77).
Ovarian clear cell adenocarcinoma was first described by Peham in 1899 as
'hypernephroma of the ovary' because of its resemblance to renal cell carcinoma.
By 1939, Schiller noted a histologic similarity to mesonephric tubules and
classified these tumors as 'mesonephromas.' In 1944, Saphir and Lackner described
two cases of 'hypernephroid carcinoma of the ovary' and proposed 'clear cell'
adenocarcinoma as an alternative term. Clear cell tumors of the ovary are now
generally considered to be of mullerian and in the genital tract of mullerian origin.
A number of examples of clear cell adenocarcinoma have been...