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Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

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Adenocarcinoma of the appendix

Other Names for this Disease
  • Colonic type adenocarcinoma
  • Cystadenocarcinoma
  • Mucinous adenocarcinoma
  • Nonmucinous adenocarcinoma
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Your Question

What is mucinous adenocarcinoma of the appendix?

Our Answer

We have identified the following information that we hope you find helpful. If you still have questions, please contact us.

What is adenocarcinoma of the appendix?

Adenocarcinoma of the appendix is a epithelial cancer of the appendix.[1] The term 'epithelium' refers to cells that line hollow organs and glands and those that make up the outer surface of the body. Epithelial cells help to protect or enclose organs. Some produce mucus or other secretions.[2] Types of adenocarcinoma of the appendix include mucinous adenocarcinoma, non-mucinous adenocarcinoma, and possibly signet cell carcinoma of appendix (this is still debated).[1][3]
Last updated: 8/26/2009

Are there different types of adenocarcinoma of the appendix?

Yes. Types of adenocarcinoma of the appendix include mucinous adenocarcinoma also known as cystadenocarcinoma, and non-mucinous adenocarcinoma also known as colonic-type adenocarcinoma.[1] There is controversy regarding whether or not 'signet cell carcinoma of appendix' represents a third type due to its significantly worse prognosis. It has a high likelihood of having spread to adjacent organs (76%) by the time of diagnosis as compared to mucinous adenocarcinoma (63%) and the colonic type (37%).[3]
Last updated: 8/21/2009

How might adenocarcinoma of the appendix be diagnosed?

Adenocarcinoma of the appendix may be identified along with acute appendicitis.[1][3][4] Mucinous adenocarcinomas may also be found incidentally as a right sided cystic mass on an imaging study.[1]
Last updated: 8/21/2009

What are the symptoms of adenocarcinoma of the appendix?

The most common clinical symptom is acute appendicitis.[1][4] Other symptoms include a palpable abdominal mass, ascites (fluid buildup), peritonitis (inflammation of the membrane lining the abdominal cavity) due to a perforated appendix, and non-specific gastrointestinal or genitourinary symptoms such as bloating, vague abdominal pain, and tenderness.[3][4]
Last updated: 8/21/2009

How might adenocarcinoma of the appendix be treated?

Adenocarcinoma of the appendix can be treated surgically, often by hemicolectomy.[1][3][4] Appendicectomy may also be considered.[3][4] Adjuvant chemotherapy may be beneficial for more advanced disease.[4] There is a high incidence of secondary malignancy with adenocarcinomas of the appendix; as a result a careful pre- and post-operative evaluation is warranted.[4]
Last updated: 8/21/2009

What is the typical outlook for people with adenocarcinoma of the appendix?

Overall survival of adenocarcinoma of the appendix is approximately 60% at 5 years, however the prognosis depends largely on the stage of the tumor at the time of diagnosis.[1] We recommend that you speak with your healthcare provider to learn more regarding your personal prognosis.
Last updated: 8/21/2009

  • Sarosi GA, Turnage RH.. Miscellaneous topics. In: Feldman et al, eds. Sleisenger & Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders; 2006;
  • Epithelium. MedlinePlus. 2006; Accessed 8/6/2008.
  • Ahmed K, Hoque R, El-Tawil S, Khan MS, George ML. Adenocarcinoma of the appendix presenting as bilateral ureteric obstruction. World J Surg Oncol. 2008 Feb 21;
  • Hu CC, Chang JJ, Chen TC, Yen CL, Chien RN. Colonoscopic feature of primary adenocarcinoma of the appendix. Intern Med. 2008;