The Fallopian Tube-Peritoneal Junction: A Potential Site of Carcinogenesis

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Abstract

Junctions between different types of epithelia are hot spots for carcinogenesis, but the junction of the peritoneal mesothelium with the fallopian tubal epithelium, the tubal-peritoneal junction, has not been characterized earlier. A total of 613 junctional foci in 228 fallopian tube specimens from 182 patients who underwent surgery for a variety of indications, including 27 risk-reducing salpingo-oophorectomy specimens, were studied. Edema, congestion, and dilated lymphatic channels were commonly present. Transitional metaplasia was found at the junction in 20% of patients and mesothelial hyperplasia in 17%. Inflammation at the junction was seen predominantly in patients with salpingitis, torsion, or tubal pregnancy. Ovarian-type stroma was found at the junction in 5% of patients, and was found elsewhere in the tubal lamina propria in an additional 27% of patients. Findings in risk-reducing salpingo-oophorectomy specimens in women with BRCA mutations, a personal history of breast cancer, and/or a family history of breast/ovarian cancer were similar to those in controls. Transitional metaplasia specifically localizes to this junction, and is the probable source of Walthard cell nests. The recently highlighted significance of fimbrial tubal epithelium in the origin of serous ovarian carcinomas and a study suggesting that mucinous and Brenner tumors may arise from transitional-type epithelium in this location suggest that the tubal-peritoneal junction may play a role in the development of these tumors. This is the first comprehensive description of a hitherto unrecognized transitional zone in the adnexa.

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