Appendix Cancer Treatment

Appendix cancer treatment depends on the size and location of the tumor, whether the cancer has spread, and the patient’s overall health. The most common treatment options for appendiceal cancer are listed below—

Surgery

Surgery is the most common treatment for appendix cancer. Types of surgeries for appendix cancer include: Appendectomy-– An appendectomy is the surgical removal of the appendix. It is usually the only treatment needed for an appendix tumor smaller than 1.5 cm. Hemicolectomy— For a tumor larger than 2 cm, a hemicolectomy may be recommended. This is the removal of a portion of the colon next to the appendix; removal of nearby blood vessels and lymph nodes is often done at the same time. Debulking surgery— For advanced appendix cancer, debulking (or cytoreduction) surgery may be performed. In this surgery, the doctor removes as much of the tumor “bulk” as possible, which could benefit the patient even though not every cancer cell will be removed from the body. Removal of the peritoneum— includes the removal of the peritoneum (the lining of the abdomen) to remove as much of the cancer as possible.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to kill cancer cells. For appendix cancer, chemotherapy is most often used soon after surgery when cancer is found outside of the appendix region. There are different types of chemotherapy, depending on how the drugs are delivered to the body: Local/intraperitoneal chemotherapy— Local chemotherapy is when the medication delivery is focused on one area or section of the body. This is the most common type of chemotherapy used in the treatment of appendix cancer; more specifically, it is called intraperitoneal chemotherapy, which is chemotherapy that is given directly into the abdominal cavity. Systemic chemotherapy— This type of chemotherapy is delivered through the bloodstream, to target cancer cells throughout the body. The side effects of chemotherapy depend on the individual and the dose used, but can include fatigue, risk of infection, nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, and diarrhea. These side effects usually go away when treatment is finished.

Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy is the use of high-energy x-rays or other particles to kill cancer cells. Radiation therapy is rarely used in the treatment of appendix cancer. In certain cases, a form of radiation called P32 may be recommended. In this procedure, radioactive phosphorus is dissolved in a liquid and placed inside the body after surgery through a tube inserted in the abdomen. Side effects from radiation therapy may include fatigue, mild skin reactions, upset stomach, and loose bowel movements. Most side effects go away soon after treatment is finished.

Follow-up

This plan may include regular physical examinations and/or medical tests to monitor your recovery for the coming months and years. People treated for appendix cancer will generally need to follow up with an oncologist, surgeon, or internal medicine specialist to monitor any symptoms of abdominal recurrence, such as pain, nausea, blood in the stool, severe bloating and cramping; CT or MRI scans may be recommended as part of follow-up care.

Nutrition and Physical Activity

People recovering from appendix cancer are encouraged to follow established guidelines for good health, such as maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, eating a balanced diet, and having recommended cancer-screening tests. Talk with your oncologist to develop a plan that is best for your needs. Moderate physical activity can help rebuild your strength and energy level. Your doctor can help you create an appropriate exercise plan based upon your needs, physical abilities, and fitness level. Contact us to request an appointment with one of our medical oncologists to discuss the treatment options available to treat your appendiceal cancer.