What is Adenocarcinoma, main types, and treatment

Adenocarcinoma is a type of cancer that originates in glandular tissues, formed by cells capable of secreting substances to the body. This type of malignant tumor can develop in several organs of the body, including prostate, stomach, intestine, lungs, breasts, uterus or pancreas, for example.

In general, adenocarcinomas are cancers that are difficult to remove by surgery, with rapid growth and of an aggressive character, since they have the capacity to generate metastases, however, there are specific characteristics according to each type and stage in which it is found. Some of the main examples include:

1. Adenocarcinoma of the prostate

It is the cancer that appears in the glandular cells of the prostate and is more common in men over 65 years. Although they usually grow slowly and gradually, some types can grow quickly, aggressively and spread easily to other organs, generating metastases.

Prostate adenocarcinoma can be further divided into other subtypes, with acinar adenocarcinoma being the most common. Learn more about how to identify and treat prostate cancer . 

2. Lung adenocarcinoma

Lung adenocarcinoma is a cancer that affects the glandular cells of the lungs. It is one of the most common types of lung cancer, accounting for about 30% of cases. This type of tumor is usually aggressive, so it is important that your treatment is started as soon as possible, as soon as it is identified. Learn more about the symptoms that indicate lung cancer and what to do to treat it .

3. Gastric adenocarcinoma

It is the malignant tumor that appears in the stomach cells and represents 95% of the tumors that affect this organ, being more common in people over 50 years of age. 

Symptoms that indicate this tumor include abdominal pain, weight loss, nausea and difficulty swallowing or digesting food. Check out more details on the main symptoms of stomach cancer . 

4. Adenocarcinoma of the intestine

95% of colorectal cancer cases are caused by adenocarcinomas, which are one of the most common types of cancer in the population. Generally, this type of tumor responds well to treatment, especially if it was discovered early and did not reach other organs of the body, so it is very important to do the screening tests recommended by doctors, especially for people with a family history, risk factors or age over 50, such as occult blood testing or colonoscopy, for example. 

Learn about tests that can help identify bowel cancer .

5. Pancreatic adenocarcinoma

The most common type of pancreatic cancer is adenocarcinoma. They tend to be aggressive tumors, as they often grow without causing symptoms and, when discovered, are in advanced stages.

Find out what are the main symptoms that may indicate and what to do in case of pancreatic tumor .

6. Breast adenocarcinoma

Breast cancer is also mostly composed of adenocarcinomas. This tumor must be detected early in order to achieve better results and greater chances of cure during treatment, so it is important that screening is carried out with consultations with the gynecologist or mastologist, mammograms and self-examination. 

Learn more about symptoms, treatment and how to prevent breast cancer .

Classification of adenocarcinoma

One of the ways to classify a cancer is by its type of growth, which can be:

  • Adenocarcinoma in situ : it is the first stage, in which the cancer is still located in the tissue layer where it developed and there was no invasion to deeper layers and, therefore, it is more easily curable;
  • Invasive adenocarcinoma : appears when cancer cells reach other layers of the tissue, reaching neighboring organs or spreading through the blood or lymphatic stream, causing metastases;
  • Well-differentiated adenocarcinoma : when the cancer receives this classification it indicates that they are cancer cells that still look like the original tissue, and with slower growth;
  • Poorly differentiated adenocarcinoma : indicates that the tumor cells have characteristics quite different from the original tissue, which may indicate greater potential for malignancy and difficulty in treatment;
  • Moderately differentiated adenocarcinoma : they are at an intermediate level between the good and the little differentiated. 

Generally, to identify the cancer classification, it is necessary to perform a biopsy of the tumor tissue, capable of microscopically detecting these characteristics. Better understand the differences between tumor and cancer and how to identify .

How the treatment is done

Treatment for adenocarcinoma varies depending on the location, type and classification of the tumor, but treatment options generally include radiotherapy, chemotherapy and tumor removal through surgery.

Adenocarcinomas are usually aggressive and difficult to treat and, therefore, the prognosis is highly individualized. However, it is very important to talk to the doctor about the options, their consequences and their benefits before deciding when and where to start treatment.

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