What Is Serous Carcinoma?

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  • Written By: Andy Josiah
  • Edited By: Nancy Fann-Im
  • Last Modified Date: 14 July 2019
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Serous carcinoma is a type of cancer that traces its origins to serous fluid, or serum. This is a bodily fluid that is transparent and yellowish, and it is also known as blood serum since it is separated as a liquid substance from blood when it is clotted. Serous carcinoma is sometimes classified as an epithelial malignancy, or harmful tumors that occur in the epithelium, which is a tissue that lines the body's cavities and surfaces. The epithelium produces serum or a serum-like substance. The status of the epithelium as one of the body's main tissues, as well as its capacity of producing serum or a serum-like substance, is the major reason why there are several types of this carcinoma.

The most common form of serous carcinoma, as well as the deadliest, occurs in the ovary. Based on a report by the American Cancer Society, the occurrence of this disease is rather rare, accounting for 6 percent of cancers in the female population. Ovarian carcinoma, however, does not typically exhibit clear physical symptoms. This leads to a tardy diagnosis, by which time it might have spread to the abdomen and other parts of the body. The resulting prognosis is not good: a 15 to 20 percent chance of living up to five years. It is estimated that more than 90 percent of ovarian cancers occur in the epithelium.


Another type of serous carcinoma is uterine serous carcinoma (USC), which can also be referred to as uterine cancer, uterine serous adenocarcinoma, or uterine papillary serous carcinoma (UPSC). It develops in a specialized form of epithelium called endothelium, which lines the inner surface of blood vessels with thin layers of cells. In this particular case, the cancer develops in the endothelium that lines the uterus, or womb. This form of cancer most commonly occurs in postmenopausal women, and physicians usually diagnose it during endometrial biopsy. Like ovarian cancer, however, USC is a rare form of malignancy.

This carcinoma also falls under the cervical cancer umbrella. This is because most cervical cancers end up being squamous cell carcinoma, named after the layer of flat epithelial cells that can be found lining the cervix. Another common form of cervical carcinoma is adenocarcinoma. This develops in epithelial cells that line organs such as the lungs, colon and prostate, thus leading physicians to attribute the origin of adenocarcinoma to glandular tissue.


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