Ovarian cancer (OVCA) is characterized by genomic/molecular intra-patient heterogeneity (IPH). Tissue histology and morphological features are surrogates of the underlying genomic/molecular contexture. We assessed the morphological IPH of OVCA tumor compartments and of lymphocytic infiltrates in multiple matched samples per patient.
We examined 294 hematoxylin & eosin (H&E) OVCA tumor whole sections from 70 treatment-naïve patients who had undergone cytoreductive surgery. We assessed morphological subtypes as immunoreactive (IR), solid – proliferative (SD), papilloglandular (PG), and mesenchymal transition (MT); subtype load per patient; stromal tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte (sTIL) density as average per sample; and, as maximal sTIL values (max-TILs) among all samples per patient, ovaries and implants.
Among all 294 tumor sections, the most frequent primary morphological subtype was PG (n=150, 51.0%), followed by MT (71, 24.1%), SD (48, 16.3%) and IR (15, 5.1%). Subtype combinations were observed in 67/294 sections (22.8%) and IPH in 48/70 patients (68.6%). PG prevailed in ovaries (p<0.001), SD and MT in implants (p=0.023 and p<0.001, respectively). sTILs were higher in SD compared to non-SD (p=0.019) and lower in PG, respectively (p<0.001). sTIL density was higher in implants than in ovaries (p<0.001). Higher max-TILs were associated with stage IV disease (p=0.043), upper abdominal dissemination (p=0.024), endometrioid histology (p=0.013), and grade 3 tumors (p=0.021). Favorable prognosticators were higher max-TILs per patient (PFS, OS) and higher SD-load (PFS).
Clinically relevant morphological and host immune-response IPH appear to be the norm in OVCA. This may complicate efforts to decipher sensitivity of the tumor to certain treatment modalities from a single pre-operative biopsy.

Copyright© 2020, International Institute of Anticancer Research (Dr. George J. Delinasios), All rights reserved.