Fallopian tube cancer is rare, and little is known about what causes it. However, we do know that some people may be more at risk for fallopian tube cancer than others, based on several risk factors. Here is what is known about risk factors and how fallopian tube cancer can be prevented.
Risk Factors for Fallopian Tube Cancer
Certain conditions or inherited genes may raise your risk of fallopian tube cancer. If you have any of the fallopian tube cancer risk factors listed below, talk to your doctor:
- History: A personal or family history of fallopian tube, ovarian, breast, or primary peritoneal cancer raises your risk of fallopian tube cancer.
- Endometriosis: While this is a benign (non-cancerous) condition, it can raise the risk of ovarian and fallopian tube cancers.
- Genetic predisposition: Mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes can raise the risk of developing fallopian tube cancer.
Penn Medicine's Abramson Cancer Center is a national leader in the field of cancer genetics, and is proud to be the home of the Mariann and Robert MacDonald Cancer Risk Evaluation Center. The center’s team of expert genetic counselors and gynecologic oncologists can provide the information, care and support you need to make the best decisions about your health.
Fallopian Tube Cancer Prevention
While there are no screening tests for fallopian tube cancer and no early signs or symptoms, doctors can help you lower your risk.
Genetic Counseling for Fallopian Tube Cancer
Genetic counseling can predict the likelihood of having a gene mutation associated with an increased risk of ovarian cancer. The Basser Center for BRCA at Penn Medicine offers genetic screening and counseling for BRCA-related cancers. If you are found to carry one of these gene mutations, we can help determine a prevention strategy for you and, if necessary, your children.
Oral Contraceptives to Prevent Fallopian Tube Cancer
Taking oral contraceptives (also called “the birth-control pill”) can reduce the risk of fallopian tube cancer in some people. However, this treatment can also increase the risk of breast cancer and raises the risk of blood clots, particularly in people who smoke. Research continues to examine the risks and benefits of oral contraceptives in relation to fallopian tube cancer.
Giving Birth, Breastfeeding, and Fallopian Tube Cancer
Giving birth may lower the risk of fallopian tube cancer. The risk continues to lower with every birth. Similarly, breastfeeding may also lower the risk. This effect increases when breastfeeding is continued for at least eight months.
Preventive Surgery for Fallopian Tube Cancer
If you are at an extremely high risk for fallopian tube cancer, your doctor may recommend preventive surgery, such as a tubal ligation (surgery to close the fallopian tubes) or a salpingectomy (removal of both fallopian tubes).
If you have gene mutations that raise your fallopian tube cancer risk, such as those to BRCA1 and BRCA2, your doctor might recommend a risk-reducing surgery to remove the fallopian tubes and ovaries (salpingo-oophorectomy) before cancer can develop.
Learn how we treat fallopian tube cancer at Penn Medicine