Since appendix cancer often does not have symptoms in the early stages, it frequently is not diagnosed until surgery for another condition, such as acute appendicitis, or during tests for another condition.
Sometimes appendix cancer is found as part of the routine procedure after abdominal surgery for another condition. If your doctor finds what might be appendix cancer during abdominal surgery, a biopsy will be performed.
If you have symptoms that may signal appendix cancer, your doctor will examine you and ask you questions about your health; your lifestyle, including smoking and drinking habits; and your family medical history.
One or more of the following tests may be used to find out if you have appendix cancer and if it has spread. These tests also may be used to find out if treatment is working.
- Blood and urine tests
- Imaging tests, which may include: CT or CAT (computed axial tomography) scans, MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans and PET (positron emission tomography) scans
If you are diagnosed with appendix cancer, your doctor will determine the stage of the disease.
Staging is a way of classifying cancer by how much disease is in the body and where it has spread when it is diagnosed. This helps the doctor plan the best way to treat the cancer.
Once the staging classification is determined, it stays the same even if treatment is successful or the cancer spreads.
(source: National Cancer Institute)
Localized: Cancer is found in the appendix, colon, rectum, small intestine and/or stomach only.
Regional: Cancer has spread from the appendix, colon, rectum, stomach and/or small intestine to nearby tissues or lymph nodes.
Metastatic: Cancer has spread to other parts of the body.