What Is Poorly Differentiated Adenocarcinoma?

C.B. Fox

Poorly differentiated adenocarcinoma is a serious condition that can threaten the life of a patient. Patients with this type of cancer may have a quickly growing tumor that is difficult to completely remove. Adenocarcinoma can attack many different systems, including the internal organs, the breasts, the lymph nodes and the skin. The prognosis for this type of cancer depends a great deal on the system in which the cancer is first found, as well as how differentiated the cancerous cells are.

Chemotherapy and radiation therapy may be attempted to treat poorly differentiated adenocarcinoma.
Chemotherapy and radiation therapy may be attempted to treat poorly differentiated adenocarcinoma.

Doctors will take a biopsy of a patient’s tumor to determine how differentiated the cancer cells are. Looking at the cells under a microscope will reveal whether they seem similar to healthy cells or have many mutations and poorly developed organelles. Cells that develop with many mutations and those that do not mature properly are often said to be poorly differentiated adenocarcinoma cells, because the various parts of these cells are not clearly defined.

For poorly differentiated adenocarcinoma, a biopsy of a patient’s tumor is taken in order to look at the cells under a microscope.
For poorly differentiated adenocarcinoma, a biopsy of a patient’s tumor is taken in order to look at the cells under a microscope.

Patients with this type of adenocarcinoma are often at risk from their cancer. These cells divide quickly and do not respond to proximity triggers that prevent normal cells from dividing. The cancerous cells also do not die off naturally, which allows the cancerous tumor to grow quickly. This cancer grows more rapidly than other types of adenocarcinoma, which means it can quickly take over organs and move through the patient’s body, spreading to nearby systems.

The prognosis for poorly differentiated adenocarcinoma depends on how differentiated the cancerous cells are.
The prognosis for poorly differentiated adenocarcinoma depends on how differentiated the cancerous cells are.

Aggressive treatment is needed to increase the chances that a patient will survive poorly differentiated adenocarcinoma. These cells may take over rapidly, which means time is of the essence when developing a treatment plan for a patient’s cancer. Chemotherapy, surgery, radiation and other treatments may all be used in an attempt to get the cancer under control. Alternative treatments may be used alongside standard treatments, because these can increase a patient’s odds of survival.

Adenocarcinoma comprises 40 percent of all lung cancer cases.
Adenocarcinoma comprises 40 percent of all lung cancer cases.

Though poorly differentiated adenocarcinoma is usually indicative of a severe form of cancer, there are many factors aside from the differentiation of the cells that affect a patient’s prognosis. This type of cancer can occur in many different parts of the body, and the affected organ has a strong influence on how likely it is for the patient to successfully fight off the cancer. Depending on the area in which the cancer is present, the diagnosis of this condition may be further divided into various levels of poor differentiation.

Some adenocarcinoma cancer cells do not respond to treatment as well as others.
Some adenocarcinoma cancer cells do not respond to treatment as well as others.

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Discussion Comments

anon995798

My 55-year old sister was diagnosed with poorly differentiated Stage IV adenocarcinoma of the lung with metastasis to the pericardium. She was also being treated for MS. She was diagnosed after an accidental fall, and died ten days later in hospice. I've been told this is a particularly virulent form of cancer and difficult to detect, but I don't understand why her regular team of physicians completely missed the diagnosis .

Grivusangel

Any kind of cancer that doesn't have defined "borders" is always a bad kind. That's just all there is to it. It seems the worst kinds of cancers are always the ones that have sneak cells lurking around in the body somewhere, just waiting to start growing again.

It's like trying to hit a penny-sized target with a scatter gun.

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