PURPOSE/OBJECTIVE: To determine the prognostic factors for predicting outcome of patients with adenocarcinoma of the fallopian tube and to evaluate the impact of treatment modalities in managing this uncommon disease. MATERIALS AND METHODS: A retrospective analysis of the tumor registries from 6 major medical centers from January 1, 1960 up to March 31, 1995 yielded 72 patients with primary adenocarcinoma of the fallopian tube. The Dodson modification of the FIGO surgical staging as it applies to carcinoma of the fallopian tube was utilized. Endpoints for outcome included overall and disease-free survival. Univariate analysis of host, tumor, and treatment factors was performed to determine prognostic significance, and patterns of failure were reviewed. RESULTS: The median age of the study cohort was 61 years (range 30-79 years). Stage distribution was 24 (33%) Stage I; 20 (28%) Stage II; 24 (33%) Stage III; and 4 (6%) Stage IV. Adjuvant chemotherapy was administered to 54 (75%) patients, and postoperative radiotherapy was employed in 22 (31%). In the latter treatment group, 14 (64%) had whole pelvic external beam irradiation, 5 (23%) whole abdominal radiotherapy, 2 (9%) P-32 instillation, and 1 (4%) vaginal brachytherapy alone. Chemotherapy was used in 67% of Stage I and in 79% of Stages II/III/IV disease (not significant); radiotherapy was more commonly employed in Stage I than in Stages II/III/IV (46% vs. 23%, p = 0.05). The 5-, 8-, 15-year overall and disease-free survival for the study patients were 44.7%, 23.8%, 18.8% and 27.3%, 17%, 14%, respectively. Significant prognostic factors of overall survival included Stage I vs. II/III/IV (p = 0.04) and age < or = 60 years vs. > 60 years at diagnosis (p = 0.03). Only Stage I vs. II/III/IV (p = 0.05) was predictive of disease-free survival. Patterns of failure included 18% pelvic, 36% upper abdominal, and 19% distant. For all patients, upper abdominal failures were more frequently found in Stages II/III/IV (29%) than in Stage I (7%) (p = 0.03). Relapses solely outside of what would be included in standard whole abdominal radiotherapy portals occurred for only 15% of patients (6 of 40) with failures. Furthermore, patients having any recurrence, including the upper abdomen, were more likely (p = 0.001) to die (45%) than those without any type of relapse (18%). CONCLUSION: This retrospective, multi-institutional study demonstrated the importance of FIGO stage in predicting the overall and disease-free survival of patients with carcinoma of the fallopian tube. Future investigations should consider exploring whole abdominal irradiation as adjunctive therapy, particularly in Stage II and higher.