Treatments of Appendix Cancer

Executive Summary

The different types of standard treatments for appendix cancer are explained in detail. Treatment for symptoms and side effects are included in the treatment plan. Some of the most common types of treatment include surgery (Appendectomy, Hemicolectomy, Debulking surgery, mucus removal, peritoneum removal), medication-based therapy (chemotherapy, targeted therapy), radiation therapy, and palliative care. Chemotherapy and targeted therapy involve the combination of different drugs administered in various cycles in the duration of appendix cancer treatment. Palliative care is also used for treating appendix cancer patients who are going through emotional, social, and biological distress. The appendix cancer needs to be checked for any chance of recurrence even after the treatment.

How is Appendix Cancer is Treated?

Different specialists frequently collaborate in Appendix Cancer care to develop a patient’s overall treatment plan, including various treatments. A multidisciplinary team is referred to as physician assistants, nurse practitioners, oncology nurses, social workers, pharmacists, counsellors, nutritionists, and other health care professionals who are part of cancer treatment teams.

The following are descriptions of the most frequent treatment methods for appendix cancer.

  • The type and stage of cancer
  • Potential side effects
  •  Patient preferences
  • Overall, health influences treatment options and recommendations.

 Treatment for symptoms and side effects, which is an essential element of cancer therapy, may be included in your treatment plan ​1,2​. Take the time to learn about all of your treatment options, and don’t be afraid to ask questions if you have any concerns. Discuss the aims of each treatment with your doctor and what to expect during treatment. “Shared decision making” is the term for these types of discussions. When you and your doctors work together to identify Appendix Cancer treatments that match your care objectives, this is known as shared decision making. Shared decision-making is incredibly crucial because appendix cancer has several treatment choices.

Surgery for Appendix Cancer

During an operation, the tumor and some surrounding healthy tissue are removed. It is the most prevalent appendix cancer treatment. Appendix cancer is usually low-grade (see Stages and Grades) and thus slow-growing. It is frequently treated satisfactorily with surgery alone. A surgical oncologist is a physician who specializes in the surgical treatment of cancer.

The following are examples of appendix cancer surgeries:

  • Appendectomy: The surgical removal of the appendix is known as an appendectomy. The procedure most commonly used to treat this malignancy is not an appendectomy. Instead, it is more common for people to have an appendectomy for appendicitis, and later cancer is diagnosed when the tissue is sent to a pathologist. If a neuroendocrine tumor is discovered on pathology and is tiny (less than 1 or 2 cm), an appendectomy may be sufficient to remove all cancer. A second operation to remove more tissue will likely be required if the neuroendocrine tumor is more significant or has aggressive traits, or if it is not a neuroendocrine tumor, such as an adenocarcinoma or goblet cell carcinoma.
  • Hemicolectomy: A hemicolectomy may be suggested for neuroendocrine tumors greater than 2 cm or non-neuroendocrine appendix malignancies. A piece of the colon around the appendix is removed in this procedure. Nearby blood arteries and lymph nodes are frequently removed at the same time. A right hemicolectomy is a colon operation performed on the right side. Despite removing a considerable portion of the large intestine, the procedure rarely necessitates the use of a colostomy or stoma, which is a hole in the abdomen through which bowel contents are evacuated into a bag.
  • Debulking surgery is a procedure that removes excess skin. Depending on the type of appendix cancer and whether it has migrated beyond the abdominal cavity, debulking (or cytoreduction) surgery may be recommended for later-stage appendix cancer. The doctor eliminates as much of the tumor’s “bulk” as feasible during this operation, assisting the patient even if it does not remove all cancer cells from the body. Chemotherapy (see below) may be used after debulking surgery to kill any leftover cancer cells.
  • When a tumor produces mucous, the bulk of the aberrant tissue is often attributable to mucus accumulation rather than malignancy. The mucus has a jelly-like appearance, and this condition is known as “jelly belly.” Bloating can typically be relieved by removing mucus from the abdomen.
  • The peritoneum is removed. Some surgeons advise removing the peritoneum (abdominal lining) as soon as feasible to remove as much malignancy as possible. A peritonectomy is another name for this procedure. In persons with slow-growing, low-grade appendix cancer that has advanced beyond the colon to include other parts of the abdomen, not all surgeons think significant surgery such as a peritonectomy is warranted.

Peritonectomy can help eliminate the bulk of cancer cells in patients with a slow-growing tumor. Even if it does not eradicate every cancer cell, this can benefit the patient by reducing the amount of malignancy. However, it is a complex procedure with potentially serious adverse effects. Before proposing this expensive operation, the doctor will evaluate several criteria, including the patient’s age and overall condition. Patients should speak with a qualified specialist.

Before surgery, talk to your doctor about the potential adverse effects of the procedure you’ll be having.

Medication-based treatments for Appendix Cancer

The use of drugs to kill cancer cells is known as systemic treatment. This sort of drug is injected into the bloodstream to reach cancer cells all over the body. A medical oncologist, a clinician specializing in using medications to treat cancer, usually prescribes systemic therapy.

An intravenous (IV) tube inserted into a vein with a needle, or a pill or capsule that is eaten, is two common ways to administer systemic medicines (orally).

The following are examples of systemic therapy for appendix cancer:

  • Chemotherapy
  • Targeted Therapy

Each of these sorts of therapy is covered in further depth further below. One form of systemic therapy is given at a time, or various systemic therapies are provided simultaneously. It is also be used in conjunction with surgery and radiation therapy. The type of appendix cancer determines systemic therapy. The medications used to treat neuroendocrine tumors differ from those used to treat adenocarcinomas. To determine whether drugs may be beneficial, your doctor will need to know the sort of appendix cancer you have.

The drugs used to treat cancer are being tested all the time. The best approach to understand the prescriptions given for you, their purpose, and any potential adverse effects or combinations with other medications is to speak with your doctor.


Chemotherapy uses medications to kill cancer cells by preventing them from growing, dividing, and producing new ones.

When cancer is diagnosed outside the appendix region and is not a neuroendocrine tumor, chemotherapy is typically performed soon after surgery. Depending on the stage of the disease, it is also given following surgery for a non-neuroendocrine appendix cancer to prevent cancer from returning.

Chemotherapy comes in a variety of forms, depending on how the chemicals are administered to the body:

  • Chemotherapy administered locally or intraperitoneally: The drug for local chemotherapy is supplied to a single location or section of the body. It is known as intraperitoneal chemotherapy, administered straight into the abdominal cavity. Typically, the surgeon will aim to remove as much of the tumor as possible (debulking surgery, as described above) and then place a tube in the abdomen via which chemotherapy can be administered following the operation. Hyperthermia (or heated) intraperitoneal chemotherapy is heated above body temperature to boost its potential to permeate tissue associated with tumor cells (HIPEC). The tube is withdrawn after the chemotherapy is finished, usually without another operation.
  • Chemotherapy that affects the entire body: Chemotherapy delivered through the bloodstream reaches cancer cells all over the body. It is accomplished by using an intravenous (IV) tube, which is a tube inserted into a vein with a needle, or through a pill or capsule taken (orally). Some people will undergo chemotherapy in their doctor’s office or an outpatient clinic, while others will be admitted to the hospital.

A chemotherapy regimen, often known as a schedule, consists of a defined number of cycles administered over a set time. A patient may receive a single medicine at a time or a mixture of drugs simultaneously.

Systemic chemotherapy for non-neuroendocrine appendix malignancies is comparable to that of colorectal cancer. Fluorouracil (5-FU), leucovorin (folinic acid), capecitabine (Xeloda), irinotecan (Camptosar), and oxaliplatin are examples of chemotherapy drugs (Eloxatin).

Chemotherapy side effects vary by individual and dose, but they can include fatigue, infection risk, nausea and vomiting, hair loss, loss of appetite, and diarrhoea. These side effects usually subside once the treatment is completed.

Targeted therapy

Targeted therapy is a type of treatment that focuses on the genes, proteins, or tissue environment that contribute to cancer growth and survival. This treatment method stops cancer cells from growing and spreading while limiting damage to healthy cells.

The targets of all cancers are not the same. Your doctor may do tests to determine the genes, proteins, and other variables in your tumor to find the most effective treatment. It allows doctors to match each patient with the most appropriate treatment. Furthermore, research studies continue to uncover new information about specific molecular targets and new treatments for Appendix Cancer aimed at them.

Bevacizumab (Avastin), Ziv-aflibercept (Zaltrap), ramucirumab (Cyramza), cetuximab (Erbitux), and panitumumab are some of the targeted therapies available for non-neuroendocrine appendix cancer (Vectibix).

Please consult your doctor about any potential pharmaceutical side effects and how to deal with them.

Radiation therapy 

The use of high-energy x-rays or other particles to eliminate cancer cells is known as radiation therapy. A radiation oncologist is a doctor who specializes in treating cancer patients with radiation therapy. A radiation therapy regimen, often known as a schedule, comprises a defined number of treatments for Appendix Cancer administered over a set amount of time.
In the treatment of appendix cancer, radiation therapy is rarely employed. When cancer has progressed to a specific location, such as the bone, it may be utilized to ease symptoms.
Fatigue, moderate skin responses, unsettled stomach, and loose bowel motions are all possible side effects of radiation therapy. The majority of adverse effects subside once treatment is completed.

Cancer has physical, emotional, and societal consequences

Physical symptoms, side effects, and emotional, social, and financial impacts are caused by cancer and its treatment. Palliative care, also known as supportive care, is the process of coping with all of these side effects. It’s a vital aspect of your treatment, and it’s included with medicines aimed at slowing, stopping, or eliminating cancer.

Palliative care focuses on treating symptoms and assisting patients and their families with non-medical needs while undergoing treatment. This treatment is available to everybody, regardless of age, cancer type, or stage. And it’s most effective when started soon after a cancer diagnosis. People who receive palliative care in addition to cancer therapy have fewer symptoms, a higher quality of life, and are more satisfied with their treatment.

Medication, nutritional adjustments, relaxation techniques, emotional and spiritual support, and other therapies are common palliative treatments for Appendix Cancer. You may also receive palliative treatments such as chemotherapy, surgery, or radiation therapy compared to those used to treat cancer.

Discuss the aims of each treatment in the treatment plan with your doctor before starting treatment. It would help if you also discussed the treatment plan’s potential adverse effects and palliative care options.

During therapy, your health care provider may ask you to detail each problem and answer questions about your symptoms and side effects. If you have a problem, make sure to alert your healthcare staff. It enables the medical team to treat any symptoms or adverse effects as soon as feasible. It may also aid in preventing more significant issues in the future.

Appendix cancer that has spread to other parts of the body

Doctors refer to cancer that has spread to another body from where it began as metastatic cancer. If this happens, it’s good to seek medical advice from experts who have dealt with such situations before. Different doctors may have differing views on the optimal conventional treatment strategy. Clinical trials are another possibility. Learn more about getting a second opinion before beginning treatment so you’re confident in your decision.

Surgery, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, and radiation therapy may all be part of your treatment plan. Palliative care will be crucial in reducing discomfort and side effects.

A diagnosis of metastatic cancer is distressing and unpleasant for most people. You and your family are encouraged to speak with doctors, nurses, social workers, or other health care team members about how you are feeling.

The chances of recurrence and remission

When cancer is undetectable in the body and has no symptoms, it is in remission. It is also known as NED, or “no evidence of disease.”

Remission may be temporary or permanent. Many individuals are concerned that cancer will return due to this uncertainty. While many remissions are durable, it’s crucial to discuss the potential of cancer returning with your doctor. Knowing your recurrence risk and treatment options will help you feel better prepared if cancer returns.

Recurrent cancer occurs when cancer returns after the initial treatment. It may reoccur in the exact location (called a local recurrence), in a nearby area (called a regional recurrence), or in a different place (distant recurrence).

When this happens, a new testing cycle will begin to understand as much as possible about the recurrence. After completing this testing, you and your doctor will discuss treatment choices. The Appendix Cancer treatments mentioned above, including surgery, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, and radiation therapy, are frequently included in treatment plans. Still, they are utilized differently or at a different pace. Your doctor may refer you to clinical studies looking for novel ways to treat recurring cancer. Palliative care will be vital for alleviating symptoms and side effects regardless of the treatment option.

Recurrent cancer patients may experience emotions such as bewilderment or anxiety. You are urged to discuss your thoughts with your health care team and inquire about support options to assist you in coping.

If the treatment fails

It is not always feasible to recover from cancer. If Appendix Cancer treatments fail, the condition is referred to as advanced or terminal cancer.

It is a frightening diagnosis, and advanced cancer is difficult to discuss for many individuals. However, it is critical to have open and honest discussions about your healthcare provider’s feelings, choices, and concerns. The healthcare staff has specialized skills, expertise, and experience to assist patients and their families. Ensuring that a person is physically comfortable, pain-free, and emotionally supportive is critical.


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    Kelly K. Management of Appendix Cancer. Clin Colon Rectal Surg. 2015;28(4):247-255. doi:10.1055/s-0035-1564433
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    Ruoff C, Hanna L, Zhi W, Shahzad G, Gotlieb V, Saif M. Cancers of the appendix: review of the literatures. ISRN Oncol. 2011;2011:728579. doi:10.5402/2011/728579