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Fallopian Tubes Cancer Treatment

Descriptions of the most common treatment options for fallopian tube cancer are listed below. Treatment for fallopian tube cancer often is the same as treatment for ovarian cancer. Treatment options and recommendations depend on several factors, including the type, stage, and grade of the cancer, possible side effects, and the woman’s preferences and overall health.

Surgery

The main treatment for fallopian tube cancer is surgery. Both ovaries and fallopian tubes are removed (bilateral salpingo­-oophorectomy) as well as the womb and the cervix. The tissue that supports nearby organs (called the omentum) and the lymph nodes in the pelvis may also be removed. Removal of all of the above is called a radical hysterectomy.

Before your operation

You are likely to have an electrocardiogram or ECG (heart tracing) scan. You’ll also have blood and urine tests, and your blood pressure will be checked. Some women may also have a chest x-ray or a heart scan (echocardiograph). These tests can be done the day before your operation or a few days or weeks beforehand at a pre-assessment clinic.

About the operation

The operation is carried out under a general anaesthetic. The surgeon usually makes a cut downwards from the belly button to the pubic hair. Sometimes they make a 10cm (4in) cut across your tummy (abdomen) just above the pubic hair instead.

The surgeon then removes the fallopian tubes, the ovaries and other organs through the cut in your abdomen. The muscles and tissues are repaired and the wound is closed with staples or a continuous stitch.

After your operation

You can expect to be in hospital for 3-7 days after your operation. You’ll be encouraged to start moving around as soon as possible. You will have been given support stockings to wear. These help prevent blood clots developing in the legs and you may be asked to wear them for up to six weeks after you go home.

It′s normal to have some pain or discomfort for a few days, but this can be controlled effectively with painkillers. If the pain is not controlled, let your doctor or nurse know so that your painkillers can be changed.

It takes time to fully recover from this operation and you’re likely to feel tired for several weeks or more. It will also take a while for your tummy muscles (abdominal muscles) and skin to heal. So you will need to avoid strenuous activity or heavy lifting for at least 12 weeks. A little walk for a few minutes each day is a good idea to build up your strength. It’s usually safe to start gentle exercise, like swimming, about 6-8 weeks after your surgery.

Sex, menopause and fertility

Getting back to a normal sex life after a hysterectomy is perfectly safe and healthy. To allow the wound to heal properly, most women are advised to wait at least six weeks after their operation before having sexual intercourse.

Any sexual problems usually settle with time. If they don′t improve, your doctor or specialist nurse will be able to give you advice. They may be able to arrange for you to have counselling, which is often helpful.

In women who are still having periods, removing the ovaries will bring on an early menopause, so you will become infertile.

Being told that you have cancer and that treatment will make you infertile can be very difficult. Whatever your situation, the loss of fertility can be overwhelming.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy (anti-cancer drugs) is usually given after surgery if it wasn’t possible to remove all of the cancer. It’s also given if there’s a high risk that some cancer cells that are too small to be seen have been left behind. Sometimes chemotherapy is given before surgery to shrink the cancer and make it easier to do the operation.

The drugs are usually given by injection into a vein (intravenously). Chemotherapy can often be given to you as an outpatient but it will sometimes mean spending a few days in hospital.

Side effects of chemotherapy

Chemotherapy can cause side effects, but they can often be well controlled with medicines. Most of these side effects will disappear once your treatment is over.

  • Lowering the number of blood cells - The drugs temporarily reduce the number of normal cells in your blood. When this happens, you’re more likely to get an infection and may get tired easily. If you have any signs of infection you will be given antibiotics. Occasionally, people may need a blood transfusion if they become anaemic due to chemotherapy.
  • Feeling sick (nausea) and being sick (vomiting) - There are now very effective anti-sickness (anti-emetic) drugs to prevent or reduce nausea and vomiting.
  • Sore mouth and loss of appetite - Looking after your mouth by cleaning your teeth carefully and regularly using mouthwashes are important. Your nurse will show you how to do this properly. If you don’t feel like eating during treatment, try replacing some meals with nutritious drinks.
  • Hair loss - Some of the chemotherapy drugs used can make your hair fall out. If your hair does fall out, it will grow back over a period of 3-6 months, once the chemotherapy has finished.
  • Numbness or tingling in hands or feet - This is due to the effect of some chemotherapy drugs on nerves and is called peripheral neuropathy. Tell your doctor if you notice these symptoms.

Radiotherapy

Radiotherapy uses high-energy rays that destroy the cancer cells while doing as little harm as possible to normal cells. It is occasionally used to reduce symptoms if the cancer comes back after surgery and chemotherapy.

Hormonal therapy

Occasionally doctors use hormonal drugs as part of the treatment for fallopian tube cancer.

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