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More common are cancers that start in other parts of the body and spread to the fallopian tubes including ovarian, endometrial, gastrointestinal and breast cancer. These are called secondary fallopian tube cancers.
If a woman has not gone through menopause, her ovaries produce eggs (ova) that travel through the fallopian tubes to the uterus. In the uterus, they are fertilized or expelled as part of menstruation (also called the menstrual cycle or periods).
Usually, an egg is released from the ovaries into the fallopian tubes each month. The tubes are lined with small hair-like projections called cilia. These help move the eggs to the uterus.
Fallopian Tube Cancer Types
The two main types of fallopian tube cancer are serous adenocarcinomas and endometrioid adenocarcinomas. These are the cancers that start in the lining of the fallopian tubes.
More rare types of Fallopian tube cancer include leiomyosarcomas, which form in the smooth muscle of the tube, and transitional cell, which form in other cells inside the tube.
Fallopian Tube Cancer Risk Factors
Because Fallopian tube cancer is so rare, we do not know the exact causes and risk factors. Risk factors may include:
- Age: Fallopian tube cancer can occur in women of any age. But it most often is found in white women between 50 and 60 years old who have had few or no children. The usual age is 60 to 66 years.
- Family history of Fallopian tube cancer
- Gene mutations: Women who have certain gene mutations may have a higher risk of Fallopian tube cancer. These include:
- BRCA gene mutations, particularly BRCA1, which cause high risk of breast and ovarian cancer
- One of the genes that cause HNPCC (hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer), also called Lynch syndrome
Some women have a lower risk of getting Fallopian tube cancer. These include women who have:
- Used birth control pills
- Delivered and breast-fed children. The more children you have had, the lower your risk of Fallopian cancer.
Not everyone with risk factors gets Fallopian tube cancer. However, if you have risk factors, it’s a good idea to discuss them with your health care provider.
If you are concerned about inherited family syndromes that may cause Fallopian tube cancer, learn more about the risk to you and your family on our genetic testing page.
Learn more about fallopian tube cancer:
Why come to MD Anderson for your fallopian tube cancer care?
Fallopian tube cancer treatment at MD Anderson's Gynecologic Oncology Center includes comprehensive, exemplary care that is planned by some of the nation's top experts. Your care team may include medical, surgical and radiation oncologists; pathologists; and diagnostic radiologists, all working toward the best possible treatment outcome. MD Anderson diagnoses and treats more patients with Fallopian tube cancer than most oncologists in the United States.
MD Anderson uses the latest, most-advanced technology and techniques to treat Fallopian tube cancer. Among these are innovative surgical techniques, including minimally invasive options for some patients.
Studies have shown that the success of any surgery depends a great deal on the skill of the surgeon. MD Anderson's renowned surgeons have some of the highest levels of experience and expertise in Fallopian tube cancer procedures.
Pioneering Fallopian Tube Cancer Research
If you are at high risk for Fallopian tube cancer because of inherited genetic conditions, such as BRCA or HNPCC (hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer), MD Anderson offers complete genetic testing. Results can help you find if you or your family members are at risk of certain types of cancer, including Fallopian tube cancer.
Fallopian tube cancer is like ovarian cancer in some ways. Many studies in our renowned ovarian cancer research program are open to women with fallopian tube cancer. This enables us to offer a wider range of clinical trials than many other cancer centers.