What Is Clear Cell Ovarian Cancer?

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  • Written By: Jami Yontz
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 05 October 2019
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Clear cell ovarian cancer, also known as clear cell carcinoma, is a type of epithelial carcinoma. This type of cancer forms in the surface lining of one of the ovaries. As the cancer progresses, the tumors rupture and shed cancerous tissue into the abdomen, liver, lymph nodes, or other surrounding organs. Clear cell carcinomas can be malignant or benign, but most clear cell tumors are found to be malignant.

Around 90 percent of ovarian cancer is caused by one of the epithelial cell carcinomas, which includes serous tumors, mucinous tumors, transitional tumors, endometriod tumors, and clear cell tumors. Clear cell ovarian cancer accounts for less than 10 percent of epithelial cell carcinomas, but the clear cell tumors often develop along with endometriod tumors. The cause of clear cell ovarian cancer is not known, but women age 40 to 80 years are more likely to develop these types of tumors. Women whose family members have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer may be at a higher risk of developing the disease because of a genetic predisposition.

Symptoms of clear cell ovarian cancer usually do not present themselves until the cancerous cells have spread throughout other parts of the body or until the tumor has grown large enough to be felt or seen from the abdomen. Nausea, gas, bloating, and pelvic pain are sometimes experienced. Most women are not diagnosed with the condition until the disease has progressed to a stage II cancer.


Early detection of cell ovarian cancer is essential for treatment and the person’s prognosis. If a woman has a family history of ovarian cancer, she can be tested at any age for the BRCA-1 and BRCA-2 genes, which have been linked to the development of ovarian cancer. Regular pelvic exams and pap smears can detect the development of a mass, but there is a low instance of detection of the tumors during routine physical exams.

If ovarian cancer is suspected, a physician will order a pelvic sonogram or a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan to determine the location and size of the tumor. Blood and serum tests will be performed as well. The physician will usually have to perform a surgical procedure to examine the ovaries and tumors, and he or she will biopsy the mass to test if the tissue is benign or malignant. If a diagnosis is confirmed, the removal or both ovaries and other cancerous tumors will be completed. Chemotherapy, radiation, and hormone therapy may also be recommended.


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