What is fallopian tube cancer?

Fallopian tube cancer starts in the cells of the fallopian tubes. A cancerous (malignant) tumour is a group of cancer cells that can grow into and destroy nearby tissue. It can also spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body.

Cells in a fallopian tube sometimes change and no longer grow or behave normally. In some cases, these changes can cause cancer.

Cancer can start from any of the different types of cells inside the fallopian tubes. Most often,fallopian tube cancer starts in glandular cells, which are cells in the lining of the fallopian tube. This type of cancer is called adenocarcinoma of the fallopian tube and is similar to serous carcinoma of the ovary. Many serous carcinomas previously labelled as ovarian cancers are now thought to start from cells of the nearby fallopian tube that have implanted and grown on the surface of the ovary.

Rare types of fallopian tube cancer can also develop. These include clear cell carcinoma, endometrioid carcinoma, adenosquamous carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), and sarcoma.

Sometimes it’s hard to tell if a tumour in a fallopian tube actually started there. Ovarian cancers can spread to the fallopian tubes and form tumours there. Treatments for ovarian and fallopian tube cancer are similar.

The fallopian tubes

The fallopian tubes are part of a woman’s reproductive system. The 2 fallopian tubes are on either side of the uterus. During the menstrual cycle, an ovary releases an egg. The egg travels through the fallopian tube from the ovary to the inside of the uterus.

Diagram of the female reproductive system
Diagram of the female reproductive system

Expert review and references

  • American Cancer Society. Ovarian Cancer. 2014: http://www.cancer.org/.
  • American Society of Clinical Oncology. Ovarian, Fallopian Tube, and Peritoneal Cancer. 2016: http://www.cancer.net/cancer-types/ovarian-cancer/view-all.
  • Black D, Barakat RR . Fallopian tube cancer. Raghavan D, Blanke CD, Honson DH, et al (eds.). Textbook of Uncommon Cancer. 4th ed. Wiley Blackwell; 2012: 38: 531 - 539.
  • Cannistra SA, Gershenson DM, Recht A . Ovarian cancer, fallopian tube carcinoma, and peritoneal carcinoma. DeVita VT Jr, Lawrence TS, Rosenberg SA. Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. 10th ed. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2015: 76: 1075-1099.
  • Levine DA, Dizon DS, Yashar CM, Barakat RR, Berchuch A, Markman M, Randall ME. Handbook for Principles and Practice of Gynecologic Oncology. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Wolters Kluwer; 2015.

Medical disclaimer

The information that the Canadian Cancer Society provides does not replace your relationship with your doctor. The information is for your general use, so be sure to talk to a qualified healthcare professional before making medical decisions or if you have questions about your health.

We do our best to make sure that the information we provide is accurate and reliable but cannot guarantee that it is error-free or complete.

The Canadian Cancer Society is not responsible for the quality of the information or services provided by other organizations and mentioned on cancer.ca, nor do we endorse any service, product, treatment or therapy.

1-888-939-3333 | cancer.ca | © 2024 Canadian Cancer Society