Cancer that begins in cells that line certain internal organs and that have gland-like or secretory properties is known as adenocarcinoma. Adenocarcinoma is a cancer originating in glandular tissue which is part of the epithelial. The epithelial membrane, or the epithelium, includes skin, glands and a variety of other tissue that lines the cavities and organs of the body. To be classified as adenocarcinoma, the cells need only have secretory properties — they do not necessarily need to be part of a gland.
Well-differentiated adenocarcinomas tend to resemble the glandular tissue from which they are derived, while poorly differentiated may not. With glands prominent throughout the body, adenocarcinomas can arise virtually anywhere. While each gland may not secrete the same substance, as long as there is an exocrine function, or secretion to an epithelial surface, it is considered glandular. In a malignant form the cancer is named adenocarcinoma.
If the glandular tissue is abnormal, but benign, it is said to be an adenoma. Benign adenomas typically do not invade other tissue and rarely metastasize. Malignant adenocarcinomas invade other tissues and, if given enough time, will metastasize.
Types and Treatment
Although commonly associated with lung cancer, adenocarcinoma also develops in cells lining glandular organs including the breasts, colon, prostate, stomach, pancreas, and cervix. Another type of adenocarcinoma, mucinous adenocarcinoma, accounts for a small percentage of adenocarcinomas and is particular to aggressive carcinomas that are comprised of at least 60-percent mucus.
About forty percent of all lung cancer cases diagnosed today are adenocarcinoma. Non-small cell lung cancers make up over three-fourths of all newly diagnosed lung cancers in the United States. There is only one type of small cell lung cancer; however, there are three types of non-small cell lung cancer. The three types of non-small cell lung cancer are:
- Squamous carcinoma;
- Large cell carcinoma;
Adenocarcinoma is usually seen peripherally in the lungs, as opposed to small cell lung cancer and squamous cell lung cancer, which both tend to be centrally located. Adenocarcinoma has an increased incidence in smokers, but is also the most common type of lung cancer seen in non-smokers.
Depending on a number of factors, including the extent of the disease and the patients overall health, there are a number of conventional treatment options available. The standard treatments of surgery, radiation and chemotherapy may all be available.
Depending on the type of treatment you select, you may also consult a radiation oncologist who treats lung cancer with radiation therapy or a thoracic surgeon who performs surgery to treat adenocarcinoma. In many cases, patients diagnosed with adenocarcinoma of the lung receive a combination of treatments.
We want people dealing with adenocarcinoma of the lung and their families to have good general information about diseases caused by asbestos exposure and medical treatments. It’s also important for adenocarcinoma patients to understand their legal options if they have been exposed to asbestos.
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