Fallopian tube cancer affects the duct (tube) that carries eggs from the ovaries to the uterus. This rare gynecological cancer may lead to ovarian cancer. Women who have BRCA gene mutations are more at risk. Treatment involves surgically removing the uterus (hysterectomy) and the fallopian tubes and ovaries (salpingo-oophorectomy).
Fallopian tube cancer forms in the ducts (tubes) that carry eggs from the ovaries to the uterus. They’re a part of the female reproductive system. Most females have two fallopian tubes, one on each side of the pelvis.
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Fallopian tube cancer is the rarest cancer to affect the female reproductive system (gynecological cancer). Fewer than 1% of gynecological cancers start in the fallopian tubes.
When cancer originates in the fallopian tubes, 9 out of 10 times, it develops in gland cells (adenocarcinomas). The remaining fallopian tube cancers start in connective tissue (sarcomas).
Recent research indicates that the most common type of ovarian cancer (high-grade serous carcinoma or epithelial) may actually begin as fallopian tube cancer. The cancer develops at the end of a fallopian tube where eggs enter from an ovary. It then spreads to the surface of the ovary.
Fallopian tube cancer may account for up to 70% of all epithelial ovarian cancers. Most cancers in the ovaries, fallopian tubes and the peritoneum are grouped together for diagnosis, treatment and management.
Factors that increase the chances of developing fallopian tube cancer include:
Symptoms of fallopian tube cancer can be vague and easy to dismiss. You should see your healthcare provider anytime you notice a change in your health, especially if you have cancer risk factors.
Signs of fallopian tube cancer include:
How is fallopian tube cancer diagnosed?
Fallopian tube cancer is difficult to detect in its early stage. It often spreads before diagnosis. Your healthcare provider may notice a lump or mass during a pelvic exam.
If you have symptoms, your provider may order one or more of these tests:
How is fallopian tube cancer staged?
Healthcare providers use staging to describe cancer’s location and spread. This information helps providers select the most effective treatment.
Staging is often by surgery, or possibly by imaging (CT or PET) scans. Most often, a biopsy is part of surgery for fallopian tube cancer. Your surgeon removes the fallopian tube and nearby lymph nodes. An expert examines samples of tissue from the tube and lymph nodes to check for cancer cells.
Stages of fallopian tube cancer include:
Treatments for fallopian tube cancer depend on the cancer stage. Treatments include:
If you have a family history of breast, ovarian or fallopian tube cancer, your healthcare provider may recommend a genetic test to check for changes to the BRCA gene. The test can show if you have a BRCA mutation or a syndrome that increases the risk of gynecological cancers.
If you have the mutation, a salpingo-oophorectomy surgery can lower cancer risk by as much as 96%. This is a prophylactic (preventive) procedure.
These steps may also reduce the risk of fallopian tube cancer:
Survival rates for someone with fallopian tube cancer depend on the cancer stage and other factors, like a person’s age. The prognosis is best when providers catch the cancer early, before it spreads.
The five-year survival rates (odds of being alive five years after the initial diagnosis) are:
You should call your healthcare provider if you experience:
You may want to ask your healthcare provider:
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Fallopian tube cancer is a rare gynecological cancer. People who have a BRCA gene mutation may be more likely to develop fallopian tube cancer. It’s easy to dismiss symptoms like bloating, abdominal pain and indigestion as something else. If symptoms persist or disrupt daily life, see your healthcare provider. The prognosis is good for people who receive a fallopian tube cancer diagnosis early, before cancer spreads outside the pelvic region.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 05/14/2021.
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