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Appendix Cancer Diagnosis

What are the signs and symptoms of appendix cancer?

Appendix cancers are difficult to diagnose. Most commonly patients will have inflammation and pain associated with a swollen appendix (acute appendicitis) and will have their appendix removed (appendectomy). In other cases a suspicious mass is noted (incidental finding) on a scan done for other reasons. Symptoms associated with appendix cancer (but may also be related to other disease processes) include but not limited to:

  • Chronic pain in the right lower abdomen
  • Fullness or bloating
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Pelvic (lower abdominal) pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Flushing

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms it is important to discuss them with your health care team.

  • How is appendix cancer diagnosed?

    Commonly appendix cancer is diagnosed during removal of the appendix for appendicitis or during removal of the appendix for abdominal pain. Occasionally a suspicious mass is discovered on scans performed for other symptoms (incidental finding). If you have already had surgery, our experienced pathologist will review your slides and provide expert guidance on the cell type and tumor size of the appendix cancer.

    If you have symptoms that may be related to advanced appendix cancer, our team will do a full medical exam and blood work. Scans including CT/MRI and PET may also provide additional information regarding the stage of diagnosis. Stage is determined by the size of the tumor and if there is evidence of spread into lymph nodes, other organs or outside the appendix. 

  • What is the prognosis for appendix cancer?

    Although appendix cancer is a rare disease, many patients who receive specialized expert care go on to live long and healthy lives. Some patients will require surgery and chemotherapy and some experience recurrence (the cancer comes back). The UK Markey Cancer Center strives relentlessly to provide the latest in surgical and medical treatments. We will work together with you to personalize your treatment plan and make sure no treatment is left out.