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Appendix Cancer

  201-227-6008    |      cancer@holyname.org

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Appendix cancer (sometimes called appendiceal cancer) is a rare cancer that occurs in the appendix, a small worm-shaped organ attached to the beginning of the large intestine. The appendix does not have a known function.

Fewer than 1,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed each year with appendix cancer. There are several different types, with the most common being adenocarcinoma. It is very similar to colon cancer, typically occurs in people in their 60's and is more common in men.

In certain types of appendix cancer, the appendix ruptures and sends a jelly-like substance called mucin into the abdomen, creating a condition called pseudomyxoma peritonei. Mucin is filled with mucus-secreting tumor cells that must be treated. Holy Name is one of the few hospitals nationwide that provides the sophisticated therapy, hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC), to treat this condition.

Carcinoid tumors can also occur in the appendix. They rarely spread, and, often, an appendectomy (removing the appendix) is sufficient to treat this type of tumor.

The Patricia Lynch Cancer Center at Holy Name has a multi-disciplinary team of experienced and skilled surgical oncologists, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, radiologists, nurse navigators, genetic counselors and support staff. Together they provide a compassionate, unified approach in creating a personal strategy for each patient's unique medical, emotional and lifestyle needs.


  • Bleeding from the anus or rectum
  • Pain in the area of the anus
  • A lump or mass in the anal area
  • A non-healing wound in the anal area
  • Anal itching

Risk Factors

  • Human papillomavirus infection (HPV)
  • Cancers of the cervix, vagina, vulva or penis
  • HIV infection
  • Multiple sexual partners
  • Anal intercourse
  • Smoking


  • Physical exam
  • Anoscopy
  • Anal ultrasound
  • Biopsy


Most often, anal cancer is treated with chemotherapy and radiation, a combination that is typically very successful in curing the disease. Treatment doesn't usually involve surgery unless the cancer has been caught early enough that it can be removed entirely, which is rare.