Appendix cancer, also known as Appendiceal Cancer, is extremely rare. It affects approximately 600 to 1,000 Americans each year. Tumors can be of both types that occur in the appendix i.e. benign and malignant disease. It is important to know that not all tumors behave the same way, even those tumors that are cancerous, they behave sometimes strange. Like some types exhibit a much more aggressive behavior compared to others.
Like all types of cancer, the appendix is removed at early stages of the disease. The tumor size is directly related to prognosis. Appendix tumors less than two centimeters have a low tendency to spread and patients generally have an excellent five-year survival rate, while tumors larger than 2.5 centimeters may require more aggressive treatment and patients have a lower survival rate. It is also a fact unfortunately, that appendix cancer often remains undiagnosed. It may found during or after abdominal surgery or when an abdominal mass is seen during a CT scan for an unrelated condition. For these reasons, a majority of such cases are not noticed until the disease is more advanced.
It is really painful as well as dangerous to say that you may have noticeable symptoms only when the cancer is advanced and has spread to other organs or caused a blockage. Often, appendix cancer is found accidentally when the organ is removed or when a patient is having a scan for another reason and the radiologist notices a suspicious mass. The main symptom of appendix cancer is bloating or an increase in abdominal size.
Appendiceal Cancer Symptoms, Cause and Treatment
Here you can find all relevant information about symptoms, cause and treatment of Appendiceal cancer so keep reading.
Symptoms of Appendiceal Cancer
As mentioned above that patient may not even notice minor symptoms in this case but following physical changes can be alarming in this regard.
- pelvic discomfort usually on the right side
- pain in the abdomen and/or a feeling of fullness
- inability to pass gas
- diarrhea or hard stools
- shortness of breath
- flushing or redness about the face and neck
- loss of appetite
- pain that worsens on coughing
- low-grade fever
Types and Causes of Appendix Tumors
There are different types of tumors that can found in the appendix such as:
- It starts in the hormone-producing cells that are normally present in small amounts in almost every organ in the body.
- This tumor usually starts in either the GI tract or lungs, but it also may occur in the pancreas, a man’s testicles, or a woman’s ovaries. An appendix carcinoid tumor most often occurs at the tip of the appendix.
- Approximately 50% of all appendix tumors are carcinoid tumors. This type of cancer usually causes no symptoms until it has spread to other organs.
- Mucoceles are swellings or sacs from swelling of the appendix wall and filled with mucous.
- Tumor can be of benign as well as malignant conditions that can occur in the appendix to form a mucocele.
- When contained in the appendix, they can be completely removed with surgery.
- If the appendix ruptures, the cells may spread in the body cavity and continue to secrete jelly-like substance called mucin in the abdomen.
- This type accounts for about 10% of appendix tumors and usually occurs at the base of the appendix.
- This type of cancer looks and behaves like the most common type of colorectal cancer.
- Appendicitis is inflammation of the appendix that can cause abdominal pain or swelling, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, constipation or diarrhea, inability to pass gas, or a low fever that begins after other symptoms.
Signet-ring Cell Adenocarcinoma
- Signet-ring cell adenocarcinoma is very rare, more aggressive and more difficult to treat than other types of adenocarcinomas.
- This type of cancer usually occurs in the stomach or colon, and it can cause appendicitis when it develops in the appendix.
- Another very rare type of tumor that develops from cells of the paraganglia, a collection of cells that come from nerve tissue that persist in small deposits after fetal development.
- It is often found near the adrenal glands and some blood vessels and nerves including in the head and neck region of the body.
- This type of tumor is usually considered benign and is often successfully treated with the complete surgical removal of the tumor.
Treatment available for Appendiceal Cancer
If appendix cancer is suspected during abdominal surgery which has carried out for some other reason, another surgery would most likely be recommended to make sure all the cancerous tissue is removed. This surgical approach is called “debulking” or cytoreductive surgery, and considered as the accepted standard for treating advanced appendix cancer. There may be some patients with appendix cancer, who may have other issues that would make this operation too dangerous to be a viable option. For these patients, systemic chemotherapy is an option.