Most of us have heard of breast cancer and lung cancer and, thanks to new information, we are now learning more about other cancers too. Fallopian cancer is one of the most rare forms of gynecological cancer affecting women. Because of this, many women ignore its symptoms; however, it is important to be aware of the signs of this type of cancer. Fallopian cancer is a serious disease and can cause disastrous health problems including infertility and even death.
What is Cancer?
Just hearing the word cancer is often enough to make us nervous. Cancer is a scary term, often because no one is really sure of what it means. Cancer actually begins in our own bodies. Our bodies are made up of millions of different types of cells that divide and multiply to keep our body running. Sometimes, though, certain cells in the body begin to function abnormally. This is exactly what cancer is abnormal cells. When these abnormal cells divide, they begin to multiply and expand very rapidly. The result is the growth of excess tissues, called tumors, throughout our bodies.
What is Fallopian Cancer?
. Fallopian cancer is a type of cancer that develops inside a woman's fallopian tubes. The fallopian tubes are ducts that carry your eggs from your ovaries to your uterus, where they can be fertilized. Fallopian cancer is caused by the rapid overgrowth of certain cells in your fallopian tubes. As these cells grow, they create tumors. These tumors can grow to large sizes, and end up pushing on the edges of your fallopian tubes, causing intense pain. Eventually, these tumors will spread throughout the body.
Fallopian cancer is one of the least common types of cancers out there. In fact, it only accounts for 1% of all female gynecological cancers. Fewer than 600 women in the United States develop fallopian cancer every year. Worldwide, less than 2,000 women get the disease.
Types of Fallopian Cancer
In order to determine the spread of the disease and make a diagnosis, fallopian cancer is divided up into four stages:
- Stage 1: Cancer is limited to one or both fallopian tubes
- Stage 2: Cancer is present in one or both fallopian tubes and extends into the pelvic cavity
- Stage 3: Cancer is present in one or both fallopian tubes and has spread outside the pelvic cavity
- Stage 4: Cancer is present in one or both fallopian tubes and is also located in distant parts of the body
Who's At Risk?
Unfortunately, because fallopian cancer is so rare it is difficult to determine who is at risk for developing the disease. However, there are a few known groups who are at increased risk for fallopian cancer. Risk factors include:
- Being between the ages of 50 and 80
- having a history of unexplained infertility
- having had previous inflammation of the fallopian tubes (salpingitis)
- being Caucasian
Fallopian Cancer Symptoms
It is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of fallopian cancer. The earlier the cancer is caught, the better your chances of recovery. Symptoms include:
- pelvic or abdominal pain
- abdominal pressure
- irregular vaginal bleeding (especially after menopause)
- irregular vaginal discharge
- pelvic mass that disappears after the appearance of honey-colored vaginal discharge
If you notice any of these symptoms, make an appointment with your health care provider. Diagnosing and treating fallopian cancer early greatly improves your chances of survival.