Risk factors for fallopian tube cancer

Stephen C. Rubin, MD
Last Modified: March 24, 2002


Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"

Are there any environmental factors associated with the rare fallopian tube cancer? I am undergoing chemotherapy for this and have recently met two other women within a 10 mile radius that also are undergoing chemotherapy for fallopian cancer.  


Stephen C. Rubin, MD, Professor and Chief of the Division of Gynecologic Oncology, University of Pennsylvania Health System, responds:

Very little is known about the epidemiology and etiology of cancer of the fallopian tube. Clinically, it is very similar to the much more common cancer of the ovary. For ovarian cancer, the most important risk factor is a strong family history of cancer, especially of the ovary and breast. Tubal cancers probably share family history as a risk factor. Most of the other often-cited risk factors for ovarian cancer are much weaker, and often questionable, as risk factors. These include infertility, infertility treatment, dietary and nutritional factors, talc exposure, endometriosis, and others. One often-overlooked protective factor against ovarian cancer is oral contraceptives, which may decrease the risk of ovarian cancer by about 50% after several years of use. Whether oral contraceptives protect against tubal cancers is unknown.