What Are the Different Types of Metastatic Adenocarcinoma?

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  • Written By: Jami Yontz
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 10 October 2019
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Metastatic adenocarcinoma is a type of cancer that forms in the epithelial cells of the body and then travels to another location or metastasizes to another organ in the body. There are numerous types of metastatic adenocarcinoma because the cancerous cells that form in glandular tissue or the surface layers of organs can spread to many different locations in the body. Common types of metastatic adenocarcinoma include brain, lung, breast, bowel, and bone. Other places that the cancer commonly metastasizes to is the kidney, thyroid, and prostate.

Benign tumors that form in epithelial cells, which are cells that are part of the lining of many different glands and organs, are known as adenomas. Adenomas often form in the pituitary, renal, or thyroid glands as well as within the glands in the breast, colon, or liver. These adenomas can develop into cancerous tissue, which is then classified as an adenocarcinoma. It is common in people over the age of 50 to develop benign growths in various areas of the body, such as polyps in the colon or nodules in the thyroid gland. If the masses continue to grow and develop, the mass could develop into an adenocarcinoma.


The cancerous tumor growths that form in the epithelial cells will travel and metastasize to other locations in the body. An adenocarcinoma that forms in the lining of the lungs, causing lung cancer, may metastasize itself to the cells in the person’s bones. This type of cancer is still know as adenocarcinoma lung cancer, because the classification of the cancer is determined by the point of origin. The place where the cancer has metasticized will normally be the starting point for the treating physician to either remove the cancerous tissue or begin radiation or chemotherapy treatments.

Metastatic adenocarcinoma of the bowel accounts for over 90 percent of all colorectal cancers. This type of cancer includes cancerous cells that have metastasized to the rectum, anus, colon, or intestines. Blood in the stool, constipation, vomiting, and stomach pain are usually the first signs of this type of cancer, but it may take many years before these symptoms appear. Regular endoscopy exams and other tests are recommended for those who have a family history of colorectal cancer and men and women over the age of 50.

Almost all breast cancers begin in the the glands of the breast, known as the ducts or lobules, meaning almost all breast cancer is the result of a metastatic adenocarcinoma. The ducts, which deliver milk, develop small masses containing cancerous cells that then spread throughout the tissue of the breast or to other organs in the body. This can also occur in the lobules, which produce the breast milk.


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Post 4

My sister died in January 2014. The pathology report said Diagnosis: Bone, Right iliac lesion, CT guided biopsy -Metastatic Adenocarcinoma -staining pattern consistent with a tumor of pancreaticobililary origin. Colorectal primary unlikely.

How would you test for this? Is it saying she had bone cancer from cancer in her pancreas that metastasized into her bone? Is there a test or symptoms for pancreatic cancer?

Post 3

My sister's diagnosis is poorly differentiated adenocarcinoma. Her cancer thus far is present in her only adrenal gland (they removed the other for diagnostic reasons) and her brain. However, her doctors have not discovered the origin. Does that mean her prognosis is more optimistic?

Post 2

@anon312921: If the primary site was her pancreas, probably not. For whatever reason, pancreatic cancer, even if found early, has one of the lowest survival rates of any cancers. You might have had more time with her if the cancer had been found early on, but in 1977, that's doubtful. While cancer treatment had vastly improved from say, the 1950s, it was still not nearly as good as we have today, and pancreatic cancer is still very deadly.

Post 1

My mother's death certificate reads metastatic adenocarinoma from abdomen, primary possibly pancreas. She died in 1977. Could she have been saved if it had been found sooner?

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