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Ovarian cancer often spreads out of the ovary before a patient is diagnosed and is the deadliest gynecological malignancy. The aggressiveness of ovarian cancer is determined by the progression in the form of peritoneal carcinomatosis, a stage with a poor prognosis and an untreatable condition in most patients. One of the first tumor nests or the origin of metastasis in the peritoneal cavity is the omentum. The omentum contains immune aggregates, called milky spots, embedded in adipose tissue, which support tumor growth by various mechanisms, including immunosuppressive immune cells and metabolic functions. In this sense, the abundance of blood vessels, omental resident macrophages, and chemokines, among other factors, are known to promote invasiveness, proliferation and resistance to cancer therapies. As a result, surgical practice employed in advanced-stage ovarian cancer almost constantly includes omentectomy. Paradoxically, the omentum is considered the "abdominal policeman" that contributes to peritoneal immunity by capturing antigens and pathogens from the peritoneal cavity and promoting effective immune responses against microbes. Why immunosurveillance against the metastatic tumor does not take place in the omentum? Could omental immune responses be activated with immunotherapeutic interventions? The omentum has largely been ignored in cancer immunology and immunotherapy, and the potential translational implications of this in ovarian cancer are still unclear. Here, we focus on the dual role of the omentum in ovarian cancer: its role in antitumor immune responses versus its activities fostering cancer progression.

Original publication




Journal article


International review of cell and molecular biology

Publication Date





117 - 131


Program of Immunology and Immunotherapy, Cima Universidad de Navarra, Pamplona, Spain; Navarra Institute for Health Research (IdiSNA), Pamplona, Spain. Electronic address:


Omentum, Humans, Peritoneal Neoplasms, Ovarian Neoplasms, Immunologic Factors, Immunotherapy, Female