Health A-Z

Medical Content Created by the Faculty of the Harvard Medical School


What Is It?

The fallopian tubes connect the ovaries and the uterus. Fallopian tube cancer occurs when cells in a tube multiply out of control and form a tumor. As the tumor grows, it presses on the tube, stretching it and causing pain. Over time, the cancer can spread throughout the pelvis and abdomen.

This cancer is very rare. It is more common for cancer to spread to a fallopian tube (usually from an ovary, breast or lining of the uterus) than for a new cancer to develop in it.

Scientists don't know whether environmental or lifestyle factors increase the risk of this cancer. Some researchers think certain women might inherit a tendency to develop the illness.

There is good evidence that women who inherit a mutation in their BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes have a greater risk of developing fallopian tube cancer. Mutations (changes) in this gene have also been linked to breast and ovarian cancer. If you are diagnosed with this cancer, consider being tested for these mutations.

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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