Fallopian tube cancer

What is fallopian tube cancer?

Fallopian tube cancer is a rare form of cancer which develops in the fallopian tubes. The fallopian tubes are part of the female reproductive system and the eggs move along the fallopian tubes after being released from the ovaries during the menstrual cycle. Fallopian tube cancer only accounts for 1 percent of cancers that affect the female reproductive system. Different variations of fallopian tube cancer exist, of which the most common form is adenocarcinoma.

What causes fallopian tube cancer?

The exact cause of fallopian tube cancer, like many other forms of cancer, is unknown. The only risk factor for the disease that has been identified so far is an inherited faulty BRCA gene. BRCA genes are associated with around 15 percent of fallopian tube cancers and they are also linked with ovarian and breast cancer.

Symptoms of fallopian tube cancer

Symptoms of fallopian tube cancer may include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloating or a swollen tummy
  • Vaginal bleeding after the menopause or between periods
  • Vaginal discharge (this may be watery and contain blood)

Some of these symptoms equate to other health conditions and their presence does not mean that you have cancer. However, it is always worth getting checked out for your own peace of mind. If you do have cancer early diagnosis will increase your chances of survival significantly.

How is fallopian tube cancer diagnosed?

If you develop any of the warning signs listed above, you should visit your GP. Your medical professional will question you your current condition and also perform an examination. If your GP thinks you may have fallopian tube cancer, they will send you to a specialist gynaecologist for further tests, which will be carried out in hospital and may include blood tests, a CT scan, MRI scan, ultrasound scans, a laparoscopy (this is to examine the inside of the fallopian tubes) and a laparotomy (this is to examine the inside of the abdomen). The results of all the tests will be used to reach a concrete diagnosis.

How is fallopian tube cancer treated?

The most common treatment for fallopian tube cancer is surgery, which is done to remove the ovaries and the fallopian tubes. Following surgery, chemotherapy may be given and radiotherapy may be used to prevent the cancer from returning.

What is the outlook for fallopian tube cancer?

The outlook for fallopian tube cancer depends on many factors, including when the cancer was diagnosed, the stage of the cancer and how the body responds to treatment. Survival rates are much higher if the cancer is diagnosed and taken care of early.

Living with fallopian tube cancer

It may take a long time to accept the implications of being diagnosed with fallopian tube cancer but there are people you can talk to. Your care team will cater for all aspects of your care and you can go to them for information or support. You can also contact cancer charities that offer support in the UK.

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