If you have fallopian tube cancer, it is important to get a concise diagnosis as soon as possible. This helps increase your chances for successful treatment. However, diagnosing fallopian tube cancer can be challenging because:
- It is a rare type of cancer.
- Symptoms are vague and like those of other conditions.
- Finding cancer inside the fallopian tube is difficult.
Fallopian tube diagnostic tests
If you have symptoms that may signal fallopian tube cancer, your doctor will examine you and ask you questions about your health and your family medical history. A pelvic examination will be done to feel your uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes and vagina. If a mass is found, your doctor will do more tests.
One or more of the following tests may be used to find out if you have fallopian tube cancer and if it has spread. These tests also may be used to find out if treatment is working. Imaging tests may include:
- Biopsy: Cells are removed from the fallopian tubes and looked at under a microscope. This is the only way to be sure if you have fallopian tube cancer. It usually requires surgery.
- Ultrasound of the pelvis
- Transvaginal ultrasound (a special wand inserted in the vagina gives off ultrasound waves)
- CT or CAT (computed axial tomography) scans
- MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans
- CA125 test: This blood test checks the levels of CA125, a known tumor marker for gynecologic diseases. A high level of CA125 may mean you should have more tests, but it does not always mean you have fallopian tube cancer.
Fallopian Tube Cancer Staging
If you are diagnosed with fallopian tube cancer, your doctor will determine the stage of the disease. Staging is a way of classifying how much disease is in the body and where it has spread when it is diagnosed. This information helps your care team plan the best type of treatment for you.
Fallopian Tube Cancer Stages
In women at increased risk for cancer due to BRCA mutations, serous tubal intra-epithelial carcinomas (STIC) lesions have been identified at the time of risk reducing surgery. STIC is considered a pre-cancerous fallopian tube lesion. The diagnosis and treatment of STIC is currently being studied at MD Anderson.
The following stages are used for ovarian epithelial, fallopian tube, and primary peritoneal cancer.
(source: National Cancer Institute)
- Stage IA: Cancer is found inside a single ovary or fallopian tube.
- Stage IB: Cancer is found inside both ovaries or fallopian tubes.
- Stage IC: Cancer is found inside one or both ovaries or fallopian tubes and one of the following is true:
- The tumor ruptured (broke open) during surgery; or
- The capsule (outer covering) of the ovary ruptured before surgery, or there is cancer on the surface of the ovary or fallopian tube; or
- Cancer cells are found in the fluid of the peritoneal cavity (the body cavity that contains most of the organs in the abdomen) or in washings of the peritoneum (tissue lining the peritoneal cavity).
The cancer is found in one or both ovaries or fallopian tubes and has spread into other areas of the pelvis, or primary peritoneal cancer is found within the pelvis.
- Stage IIA: Cancer has spread from where it first formed to the uterus and/or the fallopian tubes and/or the ovaries.
- Stage IIB: Cancer has spread from the ovary or fallopian tube to organs in the peritoneal cavity (the body cavity that contains most of the organs in the abdomen).
The cancer is found in one or both ovaries or fallopian tubes, or is primary peritoneal cancer, and has spread outside the pelvis to other parts of the abdomen and/or to nearby lymph nodes.
- Stage IIIA, one of the following is true:
- Cancer has spread to lymph nodes behind the peritoneum only; or
- Cancer cells that can be seen only with a microscope have spread to the surface of the peritoneum outside the pelvis, such as the omentum (a fold of the peritoneum that surrounds the stomach and other organs in the abdomen). Cancer may have spread to nearby lymph nodes.
- Stage IIIB, the cancer:
- Has spread to the peritoneum outside the pelvis, such as the omentum, and the cancer in the peritoneum is 2 centimeters or smaller.
- May have spread to lymph nodes behind the peritoneum.
- Stage IIIC, the cancer:
- Has spread to the peritoneum outside the pelvis, such as the omentum, and the cancer in the peritoneum is larger than 2 centimeters.
- May have spread to lymph nodes behind the peritoneum or to the surface of the liver or spleen.
The cancer has spread beyond the abdomen to other parts of the body.
- Stage IVA, the cancer
- Cells are found in extra fluid that builds up around the lungs.
- Stage IVB, the cancer
- Has spread to organs and tissues outside the abdomen, including lymph nodes in the groin.
MD Anderson patients have access to clinical trials
offering promising new treatments that cannot be found anywhere else.