Appendix cancers are a very rare group of cancers originating in various cells of the appendix and affects fewer than 2000 people in the US each year. Because this is such a rare type of cancer, it is critical for patients to get care from physicians who are highly experienced in treating this disease.
These cancers are most often diagnosed after surgery for appendicitis or during removal of the appendix for abdominal pain. The treatment of appendix cancer consists of surgery and chemotherapy.
Combining the latest in clinical research and cutting edge surgery and chemotherapy, the University of Kentucky and the Markey Cancer Center’s multidisciplinary team provides state of the art diagnosis and treatment all delivered with empathy and compassion to our patients. We are among the very few centers to offer the most advanced surgical treatment called hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) in the US for patients with appendix cancer.
Why UK Markey Cancer Center?
Markey has provided state-of-the-art cancer care for more than 20 years, and we are proud to be the only cancer center in Kentucky designated by the National Cancer Institute. For the last five years, Markey Cancer Center has been nationally recognized as a top 50 cancer center by U.S. News and World Report.
Our team of physicians, nurses, researchers and staff provide state of the art personalized treatment plans for you and your loved ones. Our physicians and scientist are continually exploring new treatments for the detection and treatment of appendix cancer with scientist from around the world as well as within the pharmaceutical industry to bring the latest treatments to our patients. If you are interested in our clinical trials please ask a member of our team.
What is the appendix?
The appendix is a small tube like organ located at the transition of the small and large intestine. The appendix plays a role in healthy immune system functions. Because the appendix is open on one end and closed on the other, it may become blocked and cause symptoms and occasionally rupture or burst.
How common is appendix cancer?
Appendix cancer is very rare with an estimated incidence of less than 1 per 100,000 people in the US. Appendix cancers account for less than 1% of all cancers in the gastrointestinal system. Cancer of the appendix have been reported in teens, young adults and adults. The treatment for appendix cancer will depend on the type of appendix cancer and whether the tumor has spread.
What are the types of appendix cancer?
Appendix cancer can be classified by the type of cells inside the tumor.
Adenocarcinoma of the appendix tends to be aggressive with spread into the lymph nodes, traveling thru the blood stream and sometimes resulting in spread to other organs (liver, lungs, abdominal lining).
- Carcinoid tumors (also called neuroendocrine tumors)
Roughly 50% of appendix cancers are carcinoid tumors also known as neuroendocrine tumors. These tumors are often small and can be treated with appendectomy alone but in some cases may require more extensive surgery. These tumors can secrete hormones and patients may have symptoms of flushing, sweating, or diarrhea. The prognosis for patients with carcinoid tumors is excellent with many leading a normal healthy life.
- Pseudomyxoma peritonei (PMP)
This rare appendix cancer secrete mucous into the appendix causing it to swell and burst over time. These cells then continue to secrete mucous into the abdominal cavity which may cause the abdomen to increase in size, cause abdominal pain, abdominal bloating and in the worst cases lead to bowel obstructions (blockage).
At the University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center, we are advancing cancer care and research to prevent, detect and treat one patient at a time. As a patient at Markey, you have a team of people looking at your individual case, applying the most recent cancer knowledge to give you the best chance of survival.
Markey has more open clinical trials than any other cancer center in the region, giving you access to some of the most advanced options available. Learn more about two ongoing clinical trials for treating appendix cancer below.