Appendix cancer develops when healthy cells in the appendix mutate (grow abnormally) and multiply uncontrollably, forming a tumor. If an appendix tumor is malignant, that means that it may spread to other parts of the body. Symptoms are uncommon in early-stage appendix cancer. Treatments and outcomes may vary depending on the size, type and location of the tumor. Patients with cancer that has not spread beyond the appendix may have better outcomes.
Appendix cancer is rare. So few annual cases of appendix cancer are diagnosed each year that incidence rates are not separately included in the American Cancer Society’s yearly statistics report. Instead, the report includes appendix cancer rates as part of the statistics on cancers of the digestive organs, sometimes called gastrointestinal carcinoid tumors, a type of cancer that may develop in the stomach, small intestine, colon, rectum or appendix.
Next topic: What are the risk factors for appendix cancer?