Know the Basics
What Is Fallopian Tube Cancer?
Fallopian tube cancer, sometimes called tubal cancer, is a rare type of cancer that develops in the fallopian tubes. The fallopian tubes connect the ovaries to the uterus. And during ovulation, a woman’s egg will pass through these tubes to reach the uterus.
Fallopian tube cancer occurs when cells in the ducts grow out of control and become a tumor. The tumor will stretch and press the tube, which can cause pain as it grows larger. Furthermore, the tumor can spread from the tubes to the abdomen and pelvis.
Fallopian tube cancer is an extremely rare disease. It is more common for cancer cells to reach the fallopian tube from other parts of the body like the ovaries or the breast rather than for the cancer to originate in the tubes themselves.
Fallopian tube cancer is considered a single entity with aggressive ovarian cancer and peritoneal cancer (a type of cancer in the abdominopelvic cavity).
How do you check for fallopian tube cancer? Read on.
How Common Is Fallopian Tube Cancer?
An incidence of 0.39 per 100,000 women has been reported in the United States (Gynecol Oncol. 2018 May; 149(2): 318-323. doi: 10.1016/j.ygyno.2018.01.030). The UCSF (University of California San Francisco) notes that around 1,500 to 2,000 cases have been reported around the world. These numbers illustrate that fallopian tube cancer is incredibly rare.
Generally, developing secondary fallopian tube cancer is more common than the cancer originating from the fallopian tubes themselves. Secondary fallopian tube cancer is the term used for when cancer cells from other parts of the body (such as the lining of the uterus, breasts, or ovaries) spread to the fallopian tubes and cause a growth there as well.
Know the Symptoms
What Are the Symptoms of Fallopian Tube Cancer?
Fallopian tube cancer may present acutely or subacutely. Subacute, or slowly developing symptoms, are more common. The common symptoms of fallopian tube cancer are:
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding (especially after the woman has entered menopause)
- Abdominal bloating
- Pelvic or abdominal pain
- Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
- Urinary symptoms (urgency and/or frequency)
- Upset stomach
- Back pain
- Pain during intercourse
- Menstrual irregularities
- Vaginal discharge that can be clear, white, or pinkish with blood
- A mass in the abdomen on examination (sometimes found during diagnostic imaging); this can be preceded a feeling of pelvic pain or pressure
- An adnexal mass discovered at the time of imaging for another indication or during surgery for another indication
It is important to note that exhibiting these symptoms may not necessarily mean you have fallopian tube cancer. They may be from other issues. Fallopian tube cancer shares symptoms with many other illnesses. As such, this makes diagnosing fallopian tube cancer difficult. How do you check for fallopian tube cancer? Consult with your doctor.
When Should I See My Doctor?
If you notice any of the symptoms above, call your doctor. If you exhibit symptoms such as abnormal vaginal bleeding, persistent and/or severe pelvic or abdominal pain, and/or abnormal vaginal discharge, consult with your doctor. Or if you have just recently started menopause and notice vaginal bleeding or a pinkish discharge, immediately contact your health care provider. Symptoms that have recently just appeared, or appear with other symptoms may warrant further evaluation especially if they occur almost daily and are more severe than usual.
Know the Causes
What Causes Fallopian Tube Cancer?
Since it is a rare disease, doctors are still unsure of what directly causes fallopian tube cancer. It is more common for cancer from other parts of the body to spread to the tubes and cause fallopian tube cancer.
An inherited gene mutation may increase the risk of a woman developing fallopian tube cancer.
What Increases My Risk for Fallopian Tube Cancer?
Doctors suspect that these risk factors may be associated with fallopian tube cancer:
- Family history of ovarian, fallopian, or breast cancer
Fallopian tube cancer is more common in women aged 60-66 who had few or no children. And the incidence of fallopian tube cancers increases with age, as demonstrated in the Nurses’ Health Study. In another study, researchers found that the median age of diagnosis is 63. There were only 1.3 percent of women who were less than 20 years of age compared to those in the 55 to 64 age group, which comprised 24.7% of the total cases.
- Gene mutations inherited or otherwise
Diagnosis & Treatment
The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.
How Is Fallopian Tube Cancer Diagnosed?
How do you check for fallopian tube cancer? Since fallopian tube cancer is a rare disease, your doctor may initially suspect other conditions. Specific tests can be conducted that can answer the question, “How do you check for fallopian tube cancer?”
Here are some of them:
- Pelvic Exam
This involves examining the uterus, vagina, ovaries, fallopian tubes, bladder and rectum. Doctors will feel for any abnormalities.
- CA125 Test
This is a blood test to determine the levels of a specific blood protein called CA125. CA125 is a tumor marker for gynecological diseases like fallopian tube cancer. It is important to note however, that increased levels of CA125 do not directly mean cancer. Doctors have also observed increased levels in pregnant or menstruating women.
In fact, an estimated 80 percent of patients may present with an elevated CA125. This test may also be useful for monitoring response to treatment as well as watching out for recurrences.
- MRI, CT scan, Ultrasound
Abdominopelvic imaging can help assess for the presence of fluid in the abdominal cavity, which can appear in this type of cancer.
Your physician may also request other imaging studies like a chest x-ray or CT scan to check for cancer spread or metastasis.
How Is Fallopian Tube Cancer Treated?
Treatment for fallopian tube cancer can depend on the following factors:
- The stage of cancer (the size and location of the cancer)
- The grade of cancer (how different it is from normal cells)
- The type of cancer (where in the fallopian tubes did it originate)
- Age, health, and medical history
After an assessment of these factors, your doctor will choose the most suitable treatment option. Here are some possible treatment options:
- Surgical Staging
Depending on the extent of disease, an additional treatment to maximize survival is chemotherapy. In some cases, surgery might not be an appropriate first step of treatment due to extensive disease and your physician might opt to give chemotherapy first.
In some cases, radiotherapy may be an option for the palliative management of symptoms, including bleeding, pain, or urinary and bowel problems.
Lifestyle Changes & Home Remedies
What Are Some Lifestyle Changes or Home Remedies that Can Help Me Manage Fallopian Tube Cancer?
Relieving symptoms will be a primary concern for one living with cancer.
Here are some recommended lifestyle changes if you undergo chemotherapy:
- Manage mouth sores by brushing your teeth twice or thrice a day for two to three minutes.
- Avoid infection by avoiding undercooked food, frequently washing your hands, and staying away from crowds.
- Stay physically active.
- Keep your weight up by eating protein, calories, and if necessary, liquid food supplements.
- Remain in contact with your medical team about any current or new symptoms you are experiencing.
If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.