What does it mean if your cells are borderline? - My Ovacome

My Ovacome

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What does it mean if your cells are borderline?


A recent biopsy of my ovary showed borderline cells and I'm trying to understand what this means. Is it cancerous and if they are removed does that mean they will never come back?

10 Replies

Hi Scardy Cat,

My tumours were both borderline and as far as I understand it, 'borderline' cells are neither malignant, nor benign, but not normal either. I'm sure one of the Ovacome Nurses might explain it better than I can, also there used to be a factsheet on the Ovacome site about 'borderline'.

(My gynae also gave me some info when I was diagnosed and as far as I understand it, there are two schools of thought about borderline. However so far as I understand, not too much is known about it, as it doesn't occur so often. The two views I read about were 1) 'borderline' represents a kind of mid-stage on a continuum between normal cells and malignant cells or 2) it's a different kind of disease to malignant cancer, but the cells are still not 'normal', hence the need for treatment.)

I hope the Ovacome nurses might have more info for you about whether they can recur or not. I was told that for borderline tumours like mine, the prognosis is better than with malignant tumours, and if the doctors can remove the primary tumours, any implants from the main tumours sometimes just disappear. They don't know why this happens but it shows that borderline behaves a bit differently to malignancy.

Another lady on this site described borderline as being a bit like a slower growing cancer, that hasn't made up its mind whether or not it's malignant yet. Maybe that's the best explanation of all!

I hope you get all the info you need, I know it's confusing, hope I haven't made it more so!


Cat xxx

Its difficult explaining it to other people as they automatically ask me do you have cancer or not?

I am one of the nurses at Ovacome and do please feel free to give us a ring to discuss this further if you feel it would help. The number is 08453710554. Borderline ovarian cancer is as other people have described is not quite normal or benign but not full blown cancer either. The cells tend to divide more slowly than other ovarian cancer cells and don't usually spread which is why chemotherapy is not usually used in this situation. Quite a few people will call it cells with a low mailgnant potential or borderline ovarian tumour ( rather than cancer). It is diificult when people want to know whether you have cancer or not as they will think you have it or you don't. There is a fact sheet on the Ovacome website under resources- Ovacome fact sheets- No 10 Borderline Ovarian Cancer which should explain things more fully.

The answer to your question - once removed does it mean it will never come back-obviously I don't know your exact medical history but with most borderline tumours it is very unlikley to return but speak to your doctors about your particular situation

Best Wishes


Thanks Ruth I am still currently in hospital waiting for a chest drain today. I did find the fact sheet you are referring to and I have emailed it to my brother. It seemed to help him to understand.

The did also find some malignant cells in a biopsy of my periotenetum so I'm having a hysterectomy at the end of the month where they will biopsy all my tissue then make a decision about whether I need chemo or not


I had both kinds... and thankfully the borderline was grade 3 and the malignant was grade 1... I find it harder to cope with speaking personally as chemo doesn't touch it... I read the Ovacome sheet however the other day again and I feel a little better.

Chemo targets fast growing cells best and I've been told that as borderline tumours are slow growing it wouldn't work.

Having a chest drain is quite painful

I had borderline O.C. in two ovaries and the surgeon also removed what he termed as "something nasty" in my omentum. I didn't need chemo and they monitored my CA125 regularly for the first 5 years. I have now been discharged with the proviso that I can get fast-tracked back to the gynae/oncology dept via the nurse specialists whenever I feel I need to check anything! So far, so good since Dec 2002. Poor you!, I bet a chest drain is painful. You are at a stage where you are just waitng for things to be clearer, and that's the hardest part. The hysterectomy will probably make things clearer for you when they do all the biopsies and analysis. Good luck

Love, Wendy x

Thanks Wendy. I have found the uncertainty of waiting quite stressful. Especially as my journey through the diagnostic process started at the beginning of March

You poor thing! It will all move more quickly now though, hopefully. Was the chest drain for your treatment plan? Hope things start becoming clearer soon. In the meantime, I found the CD resources from the Penny Brohn Centre really helpful. There's a CD which features meditation, visualisation and relaxation, all of which I found were ever so reassuring and calming when I couldn't sleep, early on when I was waiting and just diagnosed. Maybe they will help you too.

Take care

Love, Wendy xx

I had a pleural effusion which is a collection of fluid around the lung and it was causing me breathing difficulties and would also have made having further surgery dangerous. I will need to have another chest xray at pre-op to make sure the fluid hasn't built up again otherwise I will need another drain before surgery. Fingers crossed I don't

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