Fallopian Tube Cancer

Fallopian tube cancer accounts for about 1% of all cancers of a woman's reproductive system.

The fallopian tubes are small ducts that link a woman’s ovaries to her uterus that are a part of a woman’s reproductive system. Typically, every woman has two fallopian tubes, one located on each side of the uterus.

Fallopian tube cancer begins when normal cells in one or both fallopian tubes change and grow uncontrollably, forming a mass called a tumor. A tumor can be cancerous or benign. A cancerous tumor is malignant, meaning it can spread to other parts of the body. A benign tumor means the tumor will not spread.

Fallopian tube cancer is often connected to ovarian cancer. New evidence suggests that at least some of ovarian cancer actually begins in tissue on the fringes of the fallopian tube, called fimbriae. The fimbriae are located near the ovary and cancer may go to the surface of the ovary early in the cancer process. Therefore, the term "ovarian cancer" is often used to describe some cancers that begin in the fallopian tube and travel to the ovaries. More research is being done about the connection between these two types of cancer.

Risk factors

New scientific evidence suggests that ovarian cancer is more closely associated with fallopian tube cancer than previously thought. 

The following factors may raise a woman's risk of developing fallopian tube cancer:

  • Recent studies have suggested that a mutation in the BRCA1 gene may also increase the risk of developing fallopian tube cancer.
  • Fallopian tube cancer occurs mostly in postmenopausal women in their 50s and 60s, but begin in women as early as 40, particularly in those who have BRCA1.
  • A family history of fallopian tube cancer can increase a woman's risk of developing this cancer.

Source: American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO)

Symptoms

Women with fallopian tube cancer may experience the following symptoms or signs. Sometimes, women with fallopian tube cancer do not show any of these symptoms.

  • A pelvic mass or lump
  • Vaginal discharge, which may be clear, white, or tinged with blood
  • Occasional abdominal or pelvic pain or feeling of pressure
  • Irregular or heavy vaginal bleeding, especially after menopause

Always contact your physician if you feel something isn't right with your body, and remember these symptoms may also be caused by a medical condition that is not cancer.

Learn more about risk factors, staging and treatment from the American Cancer Society.

Source: American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO)

Treatment

After the diagnostic tests are done, your cancer care team will recommend one or more treatment options. Often, two or more different types of treatments are used. The main treatments for fallopian tube cancer are:

  • Surgery
  • Chemotherapy
  • Hormone therapy
  • Targeted therapy
  • Radiation therapy

The choice of treatment depends largely on the type of cancer and the stage of the disease. The exact stage may not be known in patients who did not have surgery as their first treatment. Treatment then is based on other available information, including:

  • Your general state of health
  • Whether you plan to have children, and other personal considerations

Be sure you understand all the risks and side effects of the various therapies before making a decision about treatment.

Source: American Cancer Society