The treatment for appendix cancer depends on the:
- type of tumor
- stage of the cancer
- person’s overall health
A multidisciplinary team of medical professionals will help you through your treatment. Your team will include a variety of professionals that may include doctors, nurse practitioners, dietitians, counselors, and more. A type of doctor called a surgical oncologist will operate on your cancer while a medical oncologist will develop your chemotherapy plan.
Surgery is the most common treatment for localized appendix cancer. If the cancer is localized to the appendix only, the treatment is usually to remove the appendix. This is also called an appendectomy.
For some types of appendix cancer, or if the tumor is larger, your doctor may recommend removing one-half of your colon and also some lymph nodes. Surgery to remove half of your colon is called a hemicolectomy.
If the cancer has spread, your doctor may recommend cytoreductive surgery, also called debulking. In this type of surgery, the surgeon will remove the tumor, surrounding fluid, and possibly any nearby organs that are attached to the tumor.
Treatment may include chemotherapy before or after surgery if:
- the tumor is larger than 2 centimeters
- the cancer has spread, especially to the lymph nodes
- the cancer is more aggressive
Types of chemotherapy include:
- systemic chemotherapy given intravenously or by mouth
- regional chemotherapy given directly into the abdomen, such as intraperitoneal chemotherapy (EPIC) or hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC)
- a combination of systemic and regional chemotherapies
Radiation therapy is rarely used to treat appendix cancer. However, it may be recommended if your cancer spreads to other body parts.
After surgery, your doctor will follow up with imaging tests, such as a CT scan or MRI, to ensure the tumor is gone.
What’s the recurrence and survival rate for appendix cancer?
Since appendix cancer is such a rare condition, there’s little information available about its recurrence or survival rates.
According to the American Society of Clinical Oncology, , the 5-year survival rate for Grade 1 and Grade 2 neuroendocrine tumors is between 67 to 97 percent. The survival rate for advanced appendix cancer that has spread to other body parts is lower.
Survival rates also vary between cancer types. Neuroendocrine tumors have the highest chance of survival while signet-ring cell tumors have the lowest five-year survival rate at 27 percent.
The 5-year survival rate increases for some cases of appendix cancer when part of the colon is also removed and chemotherapy is used. However, not all cases of appendix cancer require these additional treatments.
The survival rate and outlook are generally good for most people with early-stage appendix cancer.
In most cases, appendix cancer goes undetected until an appendectomy is already being performed for other reasons.
After any cancer diagnosis, it’s important to follow up regularly with your doctor to be sure there’s no recurrence of cancer.