Tubal cancer, also known as fallopian tube cancer, is a cancer that develops in the fallopian tubes. The fallopian tubes carry a woman’s eggs from her ovaries to her uterus. Every woman has two fallopian tubes, one on each side of the uterus. Tubal cancer occurs when there is an abnormal growth of cells on one or both tubes.
Tubal cancer is very rare, accounting for only one to two percent of all gynecologic cancers.
Women between the ages of 50 and 60 are at higher risk for tubal cancer, although the disease can strike at any age. Caucasian women are at higher risk for the disease as well. Because tubal cancer is so rare, the causes and risk factors are unknown. There is evidence that women who have the gene for breast and ovarian cancer are also at an increased risk for tubal cancer.
Symptoms of tubal cancer
The symptoms of tubal cancer may be similar to symptoms of other gynecological problems. They include:
Diagnosis of tubal cancer
Your doctor will order a number of tests to diagnose the cancer and see if has metastasized (spread). Because it is so rare, and its symptoms often mimic symptoms of other conditions, tubal cancer can be difficult to diagnose. Diagnostic procedures may include:
Treatment of tubal cancer
Frequently, treatment for tubal cancer requires surgery, followed by chemotherapy. Your treatment plan will be individualized, taking into account your age, the type and stage of the tumor, other important medical history, and your personal preferences.
Surgery is part of the treatment for all stages of tubal cancer. For earlier stages, it may be the only treatment. Surgery involves:
Studies have shown that surgery performed by a specialist in gynecologic oncology results in a better outcome.
Chemotherapy and radiation therapy to treat tubal cancer
Chemotherapy is used after surgery to treat any remaining cancer cells or disease, and can also be used if the cancer comes back. Chemotherapy may be given into the veins, or sometimes directly into the abdominal cavity (intra-peritoneal). Learn more about chemotherapy at Washington Cancer Institute.
Radiation therapy is rarely used to treat tubal cancer in the United States.