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Fallopian Tube Cancer

By Pedro T. Ramirez, MD; David M. Gershenson, MD

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Patient Education

Fallopian tube cancer is usually adenocarcinoma, manifesting as an adnexal mass or as vague symptoms. Diagnosis, staging, and treatment are surgical.

Primary fallopian tube cancer is rare. Average age at diagnosis is 50 to 60. Risk factors include chronic salpingitis, other inflammatory disorders (eg, TB), and infertility.

Most (> 95%) fallopian tube cancers are papillary serous adenocarcinomas; a few are sarcomas. Spread, like that of ovarian cancer, is by direct extension, by peritoneal seeding, or through the lymphatics.

Symptoms and Signs

Most patients present with an adnexal mass or vague abdominal or pelvic symptoms (eg, abdominal discomfort, bloating, pain). A few patients present with hydrops tubae profluens (a triad of pelvic pain, copious watery discharge, and adnexal mass), which is more specific.


  • CT

  • Surgery to confirm diagnosis and to stage

Typically, CT is done. A distended solid adnexal mass and normal ovary suggest fallopian tube cancer. A pregnancy test is done to rule out ectopic pregnancy unless patients are postmenopausal.

If cancer is suspected, surgery is necessary for diagnosis, staging, and treatment. Staging (similar to that of ovarian cancer) requires the following:

  • Washings from the pelvis, abdominal gutters, and diaphragmatic recesses

  • Multiple pelvic and abdominal peritoneal biopsies

  • Pelvic and para-aortic lymph node dissection


  • Total abdominal hysterectomy, bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy, and supracolic omentectomy

Treatment includes total abdominal hysterectomy, bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy, and supracolic omentectomy. If cancer appears advanced, cytoreductive surgery is indicated.

Postoperative treatment is identical to that for ovarian cancer. External beam radiation is rarely indicated.

* This is the Professional Version. *