What Is Moderately Differentiated Adenocarcinoma?

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  • Written By: C.B. Fox
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 12 November 2019
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Moderately differentiated adenocarcinoma is made up of cells that, for the most part, resemble normal, healthy cells. These cells have some malformations in their components and may divide at an increased rate but are not considered to be as aggressive as cells that are poorly differentiated. The prognosis for cancers with moderately differentiated cells depends on a number of factors, such as the organ or system affected by the cancer, the size of the tumor and how widespread the cancer is, but it is generally better than the prognosis given when patients have poorly differentiated cancer cells.

To determine whether cancer cells qualify as moderately differentiated adenocarcinoma, a patient will need to have a biopsy of his or her tumor. Once a small section of the tumor has been extracted, a specialist will examine the specimen under a microscope. If the cells are moderately differentiated, they will appear relatively normal when compared with other cells from the same organ. Some minor abnormalities will be present in these types of cells, including malformations in the size and shape of the nucleus or problems that make the cell appear immature, such as the lack of certain organelles.


In most cases, moderately differentiated adenocarcinoma cells will divide more quickly than healthy cells. This means a tumor will grow more quickly than the healthy cells in the surrounding tissue, which eventually will allow the cancerous cells to overtake the normal tissue. The cells also will not die like normal cells do and will continue to divide even when there are not enough resources to support these additional cells. This can allow the cancerous cells to take over surrounding tissue at an increasingly rapid rate.

Patients with moderately differentiated adenocarcinoma can often expect a generally optimistic prognosis, though the outcome of the cancer depends on many factors aside from the condition of the cancerous cells. Treatment for adenocarcinoma may involve radiation, chemotherapy, surgical removal of the tumor, and a variety of secondary medical procedures or medications. Moderately differentiated adenocarcinoma cells respond to all types of treatments, though the cancerous cells may be resistant to some forms of treatment in some patients or in some organs. When determining how to best treat this type of cancer, a medical team will examine a number of elements, tailoring treatment to each specific patient.


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One of the scariest things a person can be told is that they need a biopsy. The implications are scary. A biopsy itself can be a relatively painless and unobtrusive procedure, but nobody likes to think of the idea of cancer.

There are two types of biopsies that are taken. The first is a the one where they just take a piece of whatever tissue they want to look at a bit closer. This can be done sometimes with just a needle. This type is called an incisional biopsy or sometimes called a core biopsy.

Sometimes the doctor will remove the whole piece of questionable tissue and test the tissue after it is out. This is called excisional biopsy.

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