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What is cancer of the appendix?

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Appendix cancer is a rare form of cancer that involves the growth of a malignant tumor in the appendix, according to the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Appendix cancer can occur in the form of carcinoid tumors, non-carcinoid tumors, adenocarcinoid tumors or pseudomyxoma peritonei.

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Symptoms of appendix cancer may not display at the beginning, and they often only appear at later stages, states the MD Anderson Cancer Center. Doctors usually discover appendix cancer unintentionally. This may happen during surgery or while conducting CT scans for other conditions. In many cases, doctors discover appendix cancer during surgery for acute appendicitis.

Appendix cancer symptoms include severe or persistent abdominal pain, discomfort in the lower right abdomen or pelvic area, an enlarged abdomen or bowel obstruction. Appendix cancer can also convey itself through the development of a hernia or an ovarian mass, says the MD Anderson Cancer Center. Appendix cancer may spread to the liver; in doing so, it may cause warmth or redness in the neck and facial area, breathing difficulties, diarrhea, abdominal discomfort, or heart valve disease.

Appendix cancer tends to be less problematic and easier to treat when the tumor is smaller than 3/4 inch. Larger tumors can be more dangerous and may require more intensive treatment, advises the MD Anderson Cancer Center.

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