Fallopian Tube Cancer

The fallopian tubes are used as a kind of superhighway from the ovaries to the uterus. Cancer of the fallopian tubes is the presence of malignant cancer cells in one or both fallopian tubes. When cells divide into deviant patterns, tumors can result.

Up to 95% of all fallopian tube cancer consists of adenocarcinomas which have grown from the cells lining the fallopian tubes. Another type of tumor that can develop in the cells lining the fallopian tubes is called a transitional cell carcinoma, so as to distinguish this type of tumor from the more common adenocarcinoma. In some rare occasions, tumors develop in the smooth muscles of the fallopian tubes. These tumors are known as sarcomas.

Just 1%

Fallopian tube cancer represents only 1% of all the female cancers, making it the rarest form of gynecological cancer. In a single year, only 3.6 women in one million will develop fallopian tube cancer. This cancer tends to strike women aged 60-64, though women can develop the disease as late as their mid-80's. Researchers have found that fallopian tube cancer is more common in white women, but they haven't yet determined the reason for this fact.

Since the cancer is quite rare, it has been difficult to study the cancer to learn its risk factors and causes. Some experts hypothesize that the cause may be a chronic infection of the delicate tubes which compromises them, leaving them vulnerable to cancer. 

Trapped Fluid

For the most part, the symptoms of fallopian tube cancer resemble those of the other female cancers. Such symptoms include vaginal discharge, bleeding, and pelvic pain. Women who experience postmenopausal vaginal bleeding should seek an immediate consultation with a physician to determine the cause of the bleeding. Sometimes, the only sign of fallopian tube cancer is a bloody mucosal discharge that doesn't resolve after antibiotic treatment. The pelvic pain is thought to be caused by fluid that is trapped inside the fallopian tube, causing the tube to swell.

In addition to the rare occurrence of the disease, there is a further diagnostic difficulty: it is hard to get a view of the inside of the fallopian tubes. These days, doctors are turning to ultrasound testing for diagnosing gynecological ailments. In the case of fallopian tube cancer, an ultrasound test may show a frankfurter-shaped mass with attached growths in the center of a fluid-filled fallopian tube. A combination of intravaginal and Doppler ultrasound screening tests is the most promising diagnostic technique for identifying the presence of this cancer today.

Some physicians believe that the only way to obtain a confirmed diagnosis of fallopian tube cancer is through exploratory surgery during which doctors can see the tubes as well as take tissue samples for biopsy.