Is Cancer Of The Appendix Curable?

by Dr. Arun R Warrier

What is Appendix cancer?

Appendix cancer, also known as appendiceal cancer, is a rare form of cancer that originates in the appendix, a small, pouch-like organ located in the lower right abdomen. It is often difficult to diagnose early because of its location and subtle symptoms. There are different types of appendix cancer, and the treatment approach may vary based on the specific type and stage of the disease.

Here's an overview of the diagnosis, symptoms, and treatment of appendix cancer:

Diagnosis

Diagnosing appendix cancer usually involves a combination of imaging tests, biopsies, and surgery. The following methods are commonly used:

  • Imaging Tests: Imaging techniques like ultrasound, computed tomography (CT) scan, or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be used to visualize the appendix and surrounding structures.
  • Biopsy: If a suspicious mass or lesion is detected during imaging, a biopsy may be performed. A small tissue sample is taken from the appendix or the affected area for examination under a microscope to determine if cancer is present.
  • Surgery: In many cases, diagnosis is confirmed through surgical removal of the appendix (appendectomy). The removed tissue is then examined by a pathologist to determine the type and stage of the cancer.

Symptoms

In the early stages, appendix cancer may not cause noticeable symptoms, or the symptoms may be mild and non-specific. As the cancer progresses, symptoms may include:

 

  • Abdominal pain, often in the lower right abdomen.
  • Changes in bowel habits or unexplained diarrhea.
  • Unexplained weight loss.
  • Fatigue.
  • Feeling a mass or lump in the abdomen.
  • Peritonitis (inflammation of the abdominal lining) if the appendix ruptures.

Treatment

The choice of treatment for appendix cancer depends on the cancer's stage, type, and individual factors like age and overall health. Treatment options may include:

  • Surgery: Surgical removal of the appendix and surrounding tissue is the primary treatment for early-stage appendix cancer. In more advanced cases, surgery may involve removing part of the colon, surrounding lymph nodes, and any affected organs or tissues.
  • Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy may be used to treat advanced or aggressive appendix cancers. It involves the use of drugs to kill cancer cells or stop their growth. Chemotherapy can be administered before or after surgery.
  • Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy: In some cases, heated chemotherapy is delivered directly into the abdominal cavity during surgery to target any remaining cancer cells.
  • Radiation Therapy: Radiation therapy may be used in combination with surgery and/or chemotherapy for specific types and stages of appendix cancer.
  • Targeted Therapies: Targeted therapies may be used in cases where specific molecular changes or mutations are identified in the cancer cells.