I hate Breast Cancer Awareness month. I know that’s not fair or reasonable, but I hate seeing pink crap everywhere. I hate that they spend a whole month making people aware of a disease people are already aware of. I know people currently fighting the disease. I know people who have survived the disease. I know people who have not.
Every single time I read about another 20 or 30 something woman going through cancer, chemo and surgery, I cry. I cry for her. I cry for me. I cry for all the people going through this. I know the month has raised lots of money for breast cancer research and that is great. I will never ever say one disease doesn’t deserve the research dollars. There will never be enough research money. I get that. But there is no Appendix Cancer Month or Rare Cancer Month for that matter. There is a Rare Disease Day. One day, that’s it. For all the rare diseases out there. I know it’s Breast Cancer Month, but I want to share some basic information about Appendix Cancer because I got a cancer that I didn’t even know existed. And nothing about it is fair and I know that’s life, but sharing a little information about my disease will make me feel better, even if for a little while.
Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. I am in no way giving medical advice. Consult your doctor. This information does come from medical professionals. Links at the bottom.
- Appendix cancer is diagnosed in fewer than 1,000 Americans each year
- Most cases of appendix cancer are found when a person has surgery for another condition
- The outcome for appendix cancer depends a great deal on the size of the tumor
- Appendix cancer usually does not cause symptoms until it is in an advanced stage and has spread to other parts of the body
Appendix Cancer Types
- Carcinoid tumors: About half of appendix cancers are carcinoid tumors. Carcinoid tumors are most often found in women in their 40s. Most carcinoid tumors are small, and they often can be treated successfully.
- Non-carcinoid tumors: These tumors begin in the epithelial cells that line the inside of the appendix. Most epithelial cells produce mucin, a gelatinous material. These tumors have a tendency to spread, and the success of treatment depends on several factors.
- Pseudomyxoma peritonei (PMP): Mucin within the abdomen has few tumor cells, but cells may spread outside the appendix into the abdomen. Adenocarcinoid tumors, also known as goblet cell carcinomas, have characteristics similar to both carcinoid and adenocarcinoma tumors of the appendix. Most patients are diagnosed in their 50s.
- Surgery is the main treatment for appendix cancer.
- Chemotherapy may be used with surgery.
- There are no appendix cancer specific chemos. We get the same ones used for colon cancer.
- If appendix cancer has spread within the abdomen, the most effective approach usually is:
- Cytoreductive (tumor debulking) surgery to remove the tumor and mucin in the abdomen. Parts of the intestine, gallbladder, ovaries, uterus and lining of the abdominal cavity may be removed.
- Hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC), also known as heated chemotherapy, which is performed during tumor debulking surgery. The abdominal cavity is filled with a chemotherapy drug, which is heated to more than 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Your abdomen is rocked gently back and forth for 90 minutes to ensure the drugs go to all areas of the abdominal cavity.