Symptoms of Fallopian Tube CancerThe symptoms of fallopian tube cancer are very vague, and are typical of many other gynecologic conditions. It is a very rare cancer, so in most cases, the symptoms are related to other less serious conditions, not fallopian tube cancer. The most common symptoms of fallopian tube cancer are:
Vaginal Discharge: Vaginal discharge that is white, clear, or tinged with pink can be a symptom of fallopian tube cancer. However, it is much more likely to be caused by something far less severe. If you are experiencing this type of vaginal discharge, you can expect your doctor to swab your vagina and perform a microscopic examination of the sample. Depending on when your last Pap smear was done, your doctor may want you to have one as well.
Pelvic Pain: Pelvic pain is a non-specific symptom and can be related to something as minor as PMS to more severe conditions, like cancer. Again, because fallopian tube cancer is rare and pelvic pain is common with many other conditions, this symptom does not raise flags for the disease. If you are experiencing pelvic pain, your doctor will want to know when it occurs, what may trigger it, and what you are taking to relieve it. Pelvic pain that is persistent and lasts for two weeks definitely needs to be evaluated by your doctor.
Pelvic Mass: A pelvic mass that can be felt during a pelvic exam is an important symptom, but is often related to benign conditions, like ovarian cysts. If a pelvic mass is discovered during an exam, your doctor will want to follow up with other tests, such as an ultrasound or CT scan to gather more information about the mass.
Abnormal Vaginal Bleeding: Abnormal vaginal bleeding can occur with fallopian tube cancer. Vaginal bleeding is considered abnormal when it occurs between periods, after sex or douching, or if you have very heavy periods. Any type of vaginal bleeding in post-menopausal women is abnormal.
Pelvic pain, discharge, and a pelvic mass are the most common symptoms present when women are diagnosed with fallopian tube cancer. Rarely do these symptoms present all together, however.
Post-Menopausal Women and Fallopian Tube Cancer SymptomsMenopausal status can play a role in how symptoms are managed and in the diagnostic process of fallopian tube cancer. Post-menopausal women who are experiencing abnormal vaginal bleeding warrant a thorough and timely evaluation.
While vaginal bleeding in a post-menopausal woman does not immediately indicate fallopian tube cancer, it does signal that something is wrong and needs to be evaluated. It could be a simple side effect of hormone replacement therapy, or it could be something more serious, like cancer.
If you are post-menopausal and are experiencing vaginal bleeding, it is important to report it to your doctor.
Who Develops Fallopian Tube Cancer?The disease is rare, and we don't have a lot of definitive information about its causes and risk factors. Women who have inherited a mutated BRCA gene are at an elevated risk of developing fallopian tube cancer.
We do know that fallopian tube cancer is most commonly seen in Caucasian women who are between 50 to 60 years of age. Don't let the statistics fool you, though. The disease can strike minority women as well as those younger and older than the 50-60 year age bracket - just less commonly.
American Cancer Society. "Ovarian Cancer Detailed Guide." 27 August 2009. Accessed: October 2009.