Appendix Cancer Awareness Month
Unraveling the Enigma: Appendix Cancer - Shedding Light on a Rare Disease
August is Appendix Cancer Awareness Month. Cancer of the appendix seldom occurs, and it is usually diagnosed by chance while diagnosing or treating some other condition. Please read to learn more about appendix cancer, its causes, risk factors, symptoms, and treatment.
What Is Appendix Cancer?
Appendix cancer occurs in the cells of the appendix. It begins when the appendix cells start to multiply and divide abnormally. The appendix is a narrow tube-like sac connecting the colon to the starting of the large intestine. Appendiceal cancer, sometimes referred to as appendix cancer, is incredibly uncommon. Experts predict that 2 to 9 persons per million will develop this kind of cancer. However, some research indicates that appendix cancer may be on the rise.
Types Of Appendix Cancer
There are different types of appendix cancer; the treatment and prognosis can vary depending on the subtype. The most common types include
- Carcinoid tumors: These are slow-growing tumors that develop from neuroendocrine cells in the appendix. They tend to have a more favorable prognosis than other types of appendix cancer.
- Mucinous adenocarcinomas: These tumors are characterized by the production of mucin, a slimy substance. They are typically more aggressive and can spread beyond the appendix to the abdominal cavity.
- Colonic-type adenocarcinomas: These cancers resemble colorectal adenocarcinomas and can spread aggressively to nearby organs and lymph nodes.
Symptoms Of Appendix Cancer
In most instances, the patient with appendix cancer will have no symptoms. Below some symptoms of appendix cancer are mentioned
- Appendicitis (inflammation of the appendix)
- Pain in the abdomen
- Pelvic pain
- Ovarian masses
- Changes in bowel function
- Nausea and vomiting
- Early satiety (Feeling full quicker while eating)
- Sudden weight loss and loss of appetite
These signs differentiate appendix cancer from signs of stomach cancer.
Risk Factors Of Appendix Cancer
The exact causes of appendix cancer are not known. However, some risk factors are associated with the development of appendix cancer. These risk factors of appendix cancer are
- Smoking: According to researchers, smoking increases the chances of developing appendix cancer in a person.
- Age: The risk of appendix cancer increases with age, with most cases occurring in people over 40.
- Gender: It appears to affect more women than men slightly.
- Familial Syndromes: Certain genetic conditions, like familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC), may elevate the risk.
- Prior Abdominal Surgery: Individuals who have undergone previous abdominal surgery may have a slightly increased risk.
- Appendiceal Masses: Having non-cancerous tumors (e.g., mucocele) in the appendix may be associated with a higher risk of developing appendix cancer.
Diagnosis Of Appendix Cancer
In most instances, appendix cancer diagnosis happens by chance. In most cases, Appendix cancer is diagnosed during testing or treatment of other conditions like appendicitis surgery (appendectomy). However, the various diagnostic tests used for the diagnosis of appendix cancer include
- Imaging tests (MRI scans, CT scans, ultrasound, PET scans)
- Lab tests (blood tests, urine tests, Biomarker testing of the tumor)
Treatment Of Appendix Cancer
Various treatment approaches are used in treating appendix cancer. Depending on the cancer's size, stage, and overall health, your doctor will choose the best treatment option. The various treatment options for treating appendix cancer are
1.Surgery: The treatment approach of surgery depends upon the size and spread of the tumor. The various surgeries to treat appendix cancer include
- Appendectomy (appendix removal).
- Hemicolectomy (removal of a small colon portion near the appendix).
- Peritonectomy (removal of the peritoneum).
- Debulking surgery (removal of as much of the tumor bulk as possible).
2. Chemotherapy: It uses medications that destroy cancer cells. Chemotherapy medications are given in the form of oral pills or are injected into the bloodstream directly.
3. HIPEC: Hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) is a treatment where heated chemotherapy drugs wash the inside of the abdomen while performing surgery.
4. Targeted drug therapy: This treatment approach uses drugs that directly target the cancer cells and destroy them without causing much harm to the healthy cells.
5. Adjuvant therapies: Advances in adjuvant therapies, such as post-surgery chemotherapy and radiation, have been shown to reduce the risk of cancer recurrence and improve long-term patient outcomes.
6. Minimally invasive procedures: Minimally invasive surgical techniques have gained popularity, leading to reduced postoperative complications, shorter hospital stays, and faster recovery times for patients with early-stage appendix cancer.
Appendix Cancer Might Be Rare, But It Can Become Fatal
Not many people are aware of appendix cancer, and though it rarely occurs, it is serious and can become fatal in its advanced stages. This Appendix Cancer Awareness Month 2023 raises awareness about appendix cancer, its symptoms, causes, risk factors, and treatment. The advancements in diagnosis and treatment in still hope in the fight against appendix cancer. As research and medical technology progress, the outlook for patients with this rare disease is becoming increasingly optimistic, paving the way for improved survival rates and better quality of life.