A Rare Cancer
Symptoms & Testing
Fallopian tube cancer, a cancer which begins within the fallopian tubes, is a very rare variety found in only 1% to 2% of all gynecologic cancers. Symptoms of this cancer might include vaginal bleeding, a pink or bloody discharge, abdominal pain or discomfort and the sensation of pressure in the abdomen. For most types of cancer, this one included, a biopsy is the best way to make a diagnosis. If a biopsy is not possible, the doctor may prescribe other methods of testing to determine whether the cancer has metastasized. Factors taken into consideration in determining testing are things like age and medical condition, the type of cancer along with severity of symptoms and any results from prior testing. Ultrasound, CT scans and MRI, magnetic resonance imaging, are all diagnostic tools to help the doctor determine the type and treatment of the cancer presented.
Depending upon the size and location of the tumor, whether it has spread, and the overall health of the woman, doctors will determine the best course of treatment for the situation. Surgical removal is most frequently used when the tumor is still in the early stages and limited to the fallopian tubes. If the cancer has spread, then the uterus is removed as well along with any lymph nodes that are nearby the infected site. Chemotherapy, the use of drugs to kill cancer, is generally administered after surgery. Many of these medications can cause severe side effects, depending upon the dosage and the individual. A chat with the doctor is the best way to learn about the drugs and their effects. Radiation therapy, high-energy x-rays used to kill cancer, may be used before surgery to shrink the size of the tumor, or after surgery to destroy any cells which may be remaining.
Research for fallopian tube cancer is an ongoing business. Advances are not always available until after clinical trials and since fallopian cancer is so rare, there may not be many clinical trials open. Since fallopian tube cancer is similar to ovarian cancer, the researchers are trying to determine if it can be treated the similarly. A trial may then include both people with ovarian cancer and people with fallopian tube cancer. The BRCA1 gene, which is responsible for breast cancer, may also increase the risk of fallopian tube cancer. Additional research may help understand the risk and also aid in patient counseling for women carrying a mutation of this gene.
Clinical trials are ways to test new treatments for safety, effectiveness and to determine whether the treatments are better than what is already available. If a person participates in a clinical trial for a new drug, they receive the drug before it goes to market. There are no guarantees that the drugs are effective or safe and the person must decide if they want to be exposed to the risk. For some people, it's the best option available for treatment. Others volunteer in order to help be part of the solution, hoping to find adequate treatment for others suffering from the same disease.