Given its rarity, the causes and risk factors for primary fallopian tube cancer are not clearly defined, although they are likely to be similar to those for ovarian cancer. A risk factor is anything that increases your chances of getting a disease.
There has been a suggested association of the cancer with chronic infection and/or inflammation of the fallopian tubes (due to untreated sexually transmitted diseases, for example), although a cause–effect relationship has not been definitively established.
Cancer of the fallopian tube is not infectious.
Very often there are no symptoms in the early stages of fallopian tube cancer, and it may be found by chance during a routine gynaecological check-up or during surgery for another condition.
However, if you notice any of the following, you should see your doctor:
- increasing swelling of the lower abdomen without weight gain elsewhere
- increasing swelling of the lower abdomen which does not improve with diet or exercise
- a lump or mass in the abdomen, especially the lower abdomen
- lower abdominal/pelvic pain that does not settle quickly and simply
- feelings of pressure on the bowel or bladder and a feeling that the bowel or bladder cannot be completely emptied
- abnormal bleeding or discharge from the vagina, especially bleeding after menopause.
Although not all women experiencing these symptoms will have cancer of the fallopian tube, if you do have these symptoms you should see your doctor without delay.
If necessary, your GP will refer you for tests to see if you have cancer.