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Everything You Need to Know About Fallopian Tube Cancer

Explore essential information about fallopian tube cancer, including its risk factors, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options.

  • 13 Sep 2023
  • 5 min read
  • 61 views

Fallopian tube cancer or tubal cancer is a rare form of cancer in women associated with BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 gene mutations. It develops in the fallopian tubes that connect the ovaries and the uterus. Ignoring the early symptoms can eventually cause the removal of the uterus and the fallopian tubes and ovaries. Our focus should be on understanding how fallopian cancer begins and recent advancements in its diagnosis and treatment, especially in the early stages.

 

What is Fallopian Tube Cancer? 

The fallopian tubes are part of the female reproductive system on each side of the pelvis. Fallopian tube cancer usually begins in the tube or oviduct gland cells that carry eggs from the ovaries to the uterus. These eggs are released each month and pass out as menstrual blood if not fertilised by sperm. Studies have reported that fallopian cancer cases are rare, with only 1,500-2,000 cases reported globally to date.

 

Symptoms of Fallopian Tube Cancer 

Fallopian tube cancer symptoms are difficult to detect early and easy to dismiss as nothing serious. It is always worthwhile to consult a gynaecologist in case of irregular menstruation, any abnormalities related to the reproductive system, or if you have a history of cancer risk in the family. The symptoms of fallopian tube cancer usually are:

  • Vaginal bleeding not associated with menstruation
  • Irregular periods
  • Watery or white vaginal discharge that contains blood
  • Back pain
  • Bleeding from the vagina after menopause
  • Swelling in the lower abdomen
  • Pain in the lower belly
  • Constipation
  • Experiencing pain during intercourse
  • Fatigue
  • Frequent urination

Causes of Fallopian Tube Cancer

The causes behind fallopian tube cancer are still not clear, but the cancer typically starts somewhere else in the body before spreading to the fallopian tubes as metastatic cancer. Experts say fallopian tube cancer may account for up to 70% of all epithelial ovarian cancers. The exact reason is yet to be ascertained, but women who have never given birth or breastfed a child post-delivery may have a higher chance of developing it. The risk factors behind fallopian tube cancer are:
• Women aged between 50 and 60 years are at a higher risk
• Post-menopause conditions can also lead to this disease; if not treated properly it triggers the cells of the female reproductive system to mutate
• Early menstruation (before age 12) or late menopause
• Inherited gene mutations (such as BRCA)
• A family history of ovarian or breast cancer
• Infertility or having no pregnancies
• Obesity during early adulthood


How is Fallopian Tube Cancer Diagnosed? 

It can be difficult to diagnose fallopian tube cancer as the symptoms are not discernible in the initial stages. Even so, the doctor will first enquire about any suspected symptoms based on medical history and conduct a thorough physical examination. Subsequently, the gynecologic oncologist may recommend any of the following procedures:

  1. Biopsy: In this procedure, tissue in the affected area is surgically removed and sent to a pathologist to determine the presence of cancerous cells. This method can stop such cells from spreading to nearby organs. 
  2. CA 125 blood test: This test measures the level of CA 125 protein that sometimes indicates the presence of ovarian cancer in the blood.
  3. Pelvic examination: The doctor inserts a speculum into the vagina to inspect the cervix, uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes for any lump. The doctor may ask for a Pap test, whereby a thin tool is used to scrape some cells from the cervix, and the sample is sent to a pathology lab to check for cancer cells.
  4. Ultrasound: In this method, high-energy sound waves are used to create echoes that form a picture of the pelvic area tissues.
  5. Magnetic Resonance Imaging: This powerful technique uses magnets and radio waves to take pictures of the fallopian tubes.
  6. Computed Tomography (CT) scan: This technique uses a powerful X-ray that takes detailed pictures of the interior body parts.


How is Fallopian Tube Cancer Treated? 

The treatment for fallopian tube cancer is similar to ovarian cancer treatment, through two main methods—surgery and chemotherapy. 

Oncologist surgeons try to remove the fallopian tubes and the uterus, cervix, ovaries, and other affected areas. Chemotherapy is suggested if surgery cannot remove all of the cancer —HIPEC (hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy). This procedure involves placing heated chemotherapy in the fallopian tube area that removes the tumour and reduces the recurrence chance. The chemotherapy drugs commonly used to kill cancer cells are carboplatin and paclitaxel. Targeted therapy treatment is mainly used to identify and attack specific cancer cells using two types of targeted therapy, tyrosine kinase inhibitors and mammalian target of rapamycin inhibitors. Researchers and scientists are still looking for ways to cure fallopian tube cancer completely, and several clinical trials are underway.

With cancer comes the burden of hefty treatment costs that eventually exhaust people’s lifetime savings, let alone the tension and anxiety of what is to become of a loved one. Hence, a health insurance plan that ensures adequate health coverage and helps to settle cancer treatment costs is highly recommended for everyone. For one, you can explore the ICICI Lombard health insurance policy and learn about the amazing benefits it provides to the insured.

 

Pregnancy After Fallopian Tube Cancer 

Women affected with fallopian tube cancer may fail at childbearing, but proper diagnosis and adequate treatment can address this issue. However, pregnancy becomes difficult if the patient is in the fourth stage of cancer, as the fallopian tubes, ovaries, and uterus are affected by cancer cells.

The treatment procedure comprises: 

  • Surgery to remove ovaries, fallopian tubes, and uterus can negate pregnancy chances forever.
  • Chemotherapy can also damage the fallopian tube by inducing early menopause. 
  • However, pregnancy is possible if both ovaries are removed and the embryo and eggs are frozen before surgery. Consulting a doctor is highly recommended before conceiving to avoid any sort of risk during pregnancy.

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