The term “adenocarcinoma” is used to describe a malignant tumor which grows in the glandular epithelial cells which line most internal organs. The tumors tend to function somewhat like glands, producing distinct secretions of their own. If such a tumor is discovered, it requires prompt treatment, as otherwise it will spread and eventually kill the patient. The leading cancer of the colon is adenocarcinoma, and it is also extremely common in the lungs.
A number of organs and body parts can be assaulted by this type of tumor, including the cervix, pancreas, prostate, stomach, thyroid, and breast. These cancers are usually very easy to spot in a visual inspection of the affected organ, as they tend to be a markedly different color. Doctors may choose to do a biopsy anyway, to confirm the cancer is an adenocarcinoma, as different tumors may require different treatment approaches.
The first step in treatment is getting the tumor out so it cannot continue to grow. Generally, doctors excise well around the margins of the tumor, with the goal of removing all cancerous cells, and then they send the cancer off to a pathologist to confirm that they removed the entire thing. After surgery, the patient may undergo chemotherapy and radiation to prevent the adenocarcinoma from growing again.
As with other cancers, the cause of these tumors is not fully understood, and these cancers can strike anyone from someone who has lived a fit and healthy life, to someone who has taken poor care of his or her body. The risk of cancer does seem to decrease with a healthy diet and regular exercise, but it can also be influenced by environment and genetic factors. Identifying potential causes of various cancers could help researchers find a way to prevent or treat them more effectively.
Treatment for adenocarcinoma can be prolonged and painful, as is the case with many cancer treatments. In addition to the physical treatment, many doctors also recommend participating in therapy, socializing with other cancer patients, and engaging in relaxing and pleasurable activities to enhance quality of life for the patient. Support from friends and community members is often an important part of getting well.