Appendix Cancer

Appendix cancer is a rare cancer diagnosed in less than 1,000 patients in the United States each year.There are no known risk factors for appendix cancer. In most cases, it is found when the appendix is removed during an appendectomy. Symptoms may include abdominal pain and nausea.

If your physician identifies appendix cancer, you will need imaging tests to see if the cancer has spread from your appendix to other parts of your body. You may also need additional surgery to remove the lymph nodes and the part of your colon closest to your appendix.

At Indiana University Health Melvin & Bren Simon Cancer Center, our highly specialized physicians have years of experience treating all types of cancer, from common to extremely rare. We use the latest technologies and treatments to help manage cancer, including hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC). You can trust that we have the expertise and advanced skills necessary to treat cancer.

Appendix Cancer Treatment

We deliver cancer care using a multidisciplinary approach that addresses all your needs. Our expert healthcare professionals are specially trained to help cancer patients. Your cancer care team may include:

  • Surgical oncologists
  • Medical oncologists
  • Radiation oncologists
  • Radiologists
  • Pathologists
  • Social workers
  • Chaplains

Together, our team develops a personalized plan to help you through cancer treatment and recovery. We take time to help you understand each step of your care and what you can expect during treatment and beyond. Your treatment plan may include:

  • Surgery. Surgery removes the appendix, surrounding lymph nodes and the part of the colon affected by appendix cancer. Most patients undergo surgery as the first step in their treatment. Depending on the stage of your cancer, you may not need lymph nodes or part of the colon removed.
  • Chemotherapy. Chemotherapy uses special medicines to destroy cancer cells. In appendix cancer patients, systemic chemotherapy (chemotherapy that affects the whole body) is typical only for patients with later stage cancers.
  • Hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC). HIPEC is a specialized type of chemotherapy available in less than 100 hospitals in the United States. At IU Health Melvin & Bren Simon Cancer Center, we use HIPEC on many patients with gastrointestinal cancers, including appendix cancer. During this procedure, you receive chemotherapy medicines in your abdominal cavity. Your abdomen is first heated to a high temperature and your body is moved to ensure the medicines reach all parts of your abdominal cavity. This effective chemotherapy destroys any cancer cells that have spread from your appendix to other parts of your abdominal cavity. 

Appendix Cancer Research

Physicians at IU Health Simon Cancer Center conduct advanced research to help determine cancer’s causes and its best treatments. At our tissue bank, we collect and study samples many types of cancer, searching for genetic factors that may cause cancer. We also use these samples to determine which treatments are most effective for different types of cancer.

We strive to remain on the forefront of cancer research so we can provide patients with the latest treatments and high-quality care.