The pathology of the ovary is complex, but this is intended as a simple guide. To provide more information relating to your prognosis and treatment, we must first explore your diagnosis. Thus, it is important for you to obtain the exact diagnosis in your pathology report and to ask your doctor the following questions.

First, what is the origin of the ovarian tumor; i.e., is it categorized as either epithelial, germ cell or stromal cell type? Secondly, it is important to understand whether the tumor is benign, borderline or malignant.

Most of the time, pathologists evaluate the tissue within a surgical specimen to diagnose the type of lesion, as well as evaluate the presence of various prognostic factors. Each patient’s tumor is unique, and each patient’s pathology report is unique to that patient. Oncologists, surgeons and radiation oncologists will use the information that the pathologists write in the pathology report to guide a patient’s individualized treatment plan.

Patient identifying information   

This typically includes the patient name, date of birth, and medical record number, and it may contain other information such as age and race.

Physician identifying information   

This typically includes the physician name and contact information. For in-house case, the physician listed is typically the physician removing the tissue sample, such as the gynecologist or gynecologic oncologist. For consultation case, the physician listed is outside requesting pathologist or clinician.

Specimen case number and important dates   

The specimen case number is a unique number assigned to that sample taken from the patient, and it is typically in the format of “S-YEAR-NUMBER” such as “S20-01234” for in-house case and “JC-YEAR-NUMBER” such as “JC20-01234” for the case from outside institution. Important dates to note are the date the specimen is taken from the patient, and the date that it is received, accessioned (that is, assigned its unique case number), and processed in the pathology laboratory.

Clinical history   

In this section, the physician provides a brief clinical history of the patient to the pathologist evaluating the specimen. This may include the location of the lesion, for example, “right adnexal mass”, or past treatments received.

Body site and procedure   

The report will specify the location in the body from which the tissue was removed (such as, “right ovary and fallopian tube”) as well as the procedure performed (such as, “bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy”).


The final diagnosis is the most important part of the pathology report and it contains the pathologist’s diagnosis. The exact content of the diagnosis varies between whether the diagnosis is benign or malignant, and if malignant, what type of malignancy.

Gross Description   

When a pathologist physically examines the tissue removed from the patient, it is called “grossing the specimen”, or “the gross examination.” This is in contrast to the microscopic examination performed later on the glass slides. In the “gross description” section, the pathologist will describe the physical characteristics of the tissue removed from the patient. The information in the gross description will include elements such as: the size dimensions of the tissue; the size and location of any visible masses; the appearance of cutting surface of the lesion; the relationship to the surrounding tissue; and the number of sections submitted from the tissue.

The gross description for consultation case simply includes the number of outside slides and name of contributing institution. The detailed gross description is provided in the accompanying document.

Pathologist identifying information   

This includes the pathologist’s name and may include other information.

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