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​Ovarian, Peritoneal, and Fallopian Tube Cancers

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What are Ovarian, Peritoneal, and Fallopian Tube Cancers?

These types of gynecologic cancers have similar cell types and behaviors and often respond the same to treatment.

Ovarian cancer

Ovarian cancer is caused by abnormal cell growth in the tissue that covers the ovaries — the almond-sized organs on each side of the uterus that produce eggs and hormones.

It's a more common gynecologic cancer, diagnosed in 22,000 women each year.

Peritoneal cancer

Peritoneal cancer is a rare cancer that forms in the membrane lining of the abdominal cavity, called the peritoneum.

Fallopian tube cancer

Fallopian tube cancer, or tubal cancer, develops in one or both of the fallopian tubes, which lead from each ovary to the uterus.

Types of Ovarian, Peritoneal, and Fallopian Tube Cancers

The following represent the most common types of these gynecologic cancers.

Epithelial cancer

  • Cancer that forms in the epithelium, or the protective tissue that lines the abdominal contents, including the:
    • Ovaries
    • Fallopian tubes
    • Peritoneum
  • This is the most common type of ovarian and fallopian tube cancers.

Germ cell tumors

  • Abnormal cells that form in the germ cells, or eggs, inside the ovary.
  • This type of cancer usually:
    • occurs in only one ovary
    • affects teenage girls and young women
  • About five percent of ovarian cancers fall into this category.

Stromal tumors

  • Tumors that begin in the cells that produce the sex hormones:
    • Estrogen
    • Progesterone
    • Testosterone
  • Approximately five percent of ovarian cancers are stromal tumors.

Who's at Risk for Ovarian, Peritoneal, and Fallopian Tube Cancers?

Certain factors may increase your risk of developing these cancers, including:

  • Family history of ovarian, peritoneal, fallopian tube, breast, or other reproductive cancers
  • Genetic mutations (BRCA 1 and 2)  that can cause reproductive cancers
  • Age over 50
  • Infertility
  • Early menopause

If you or your family are concerned about the risk of developing ovarian cancer, our High-Risk Ovarian Cancer Program offers surveillance, prevention, and management recommendations.

» Learn more about gynecologic cancer prevention and screening.

Symptoms of Ovarian, Peritoneal, and Fallopian Tube Cancers

Symptoms of ovarian cancer, peritoneal cancer, and fallopian tube cancer are similar and may include:

  • General abdominal discomfort and pain, such as:
    • Gas
    • Indigestion
    • Pressure
    • Swelling or bloating
    • Cramps
  • Frequent urination
  • Nausea, diarrhea, constipation
  • Chronic tiredness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Unexplained weight changes
  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding
  • Unusual vaginal discharge

Testing for and Diagnosing Ovarian, Peritoneal, and Fallopian Tube Cancers

Specialists at the Magee-Womens Gynecologic Cancer Program use a variety of tests to diagnose and screen for ovarian, peritoneal, and fallopian tube cancers, including:

Ovarian, Peritoneal, and Fallopian Tube Cancers Treatment at the Magee-Womens Gynecologic Cancer Program

If you're diagnosed with ovarian, peritoneal, or fallopian tube cancer, your treatment will depend on the following factors:

  • Your age
  • Your desire to have children
  • The size of your tumor
  • The stage of your cancer
  • Other medical conditions

Your doctors and other specialists at the Magee-Womens Gynecologic Cancer Program will work with you to consider your options and determine a course of action.

Treatment Options for Ovarian, Peritoneal, and Fallopian Tube Cancers

Surgery is often the recommended treatment for these types of gynecologic cancers.

In selective circumstances, we may recommend chemotherapy — before (neo adjuvant) or after (adjuvant) surgery — to control an aggressive cancer or to reduce the risk of recurrence.

The use of chemotherapy treatment depends on:

  • Your age
  • The stage of your gynecologic cancer

We may also use radiation therapy to treat ovarian, peritoneal, and fallopian tube cancers.

Comprehensive Gynecologic Cancer Care

As a patient of the Gynecologic Cancer Program, you have access to additional treatment options and services, including:

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