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A mucinous cystadenocarcinoma is a malignant tumor arising in glandular tissue with a capsulated structure and mucus-producing cells. These tumors can arise in many different types of tissue, including the breasts, ovaries, and kidneys. Often, they are not diagnosed until they have reached an advanced stage because the symptoms may be relatively minimal. Treatments include surgery and chemotherapy, supervised by an oncologist who may be assisted by other medical professionals, depending on the location of the tumor.
While the term “mucinous cystadenocarcinoma” may be a mouthful, when it is broken down into its component parts, it is easier to understand, and the same terminology used to talk about this type of tumor is also used in other medical settings. “Mucinous” indicates the presence of mucus in or around the tumor. A “cyst” is a pocket of tissue, often filled with fluid. “Adeno” indicates that the growth is glandular in origin, and “carcinoma” means it is malignant, as seen in the term “adenocarcinoma” to describe a malignant tumor arising in the glands.
When a mucinous cystadenocarcinoma is located in the abdomen, it can generate abdominal pain and tenderness along with ascites, deposits of water in the abdomen that cause bloating and discomfort. Patients can also experience abnormalities in endocrine function caused by the cancerous cells, such as spikes in levels of certain hormones. Mucinous cystadenocarcinomas can cause infertility, impairments in kidney function, and a variety of other symptoms.
Medical imaging studies can be used to locate a mucinous cystadenocarcinoma and to check for signs that it has spread. Biopsy procedures of the growth can provide more information about the source and stage of the tumor. This information is important to have when developing a treatment plan, as it can have an impact on the treatments offered to the patient.
Surgery to resect the tumor is the first line treatment. During the surgery, the surgeon will attempt to remove the whole growth intact to reduce the risk of leaving cancer cells behind and to avoid rupturing the mucinous cystadenocarcinoma and shedding cancer cells in the process. A pathologist can examine the tumor to see if the surgeon removed the tumor with a margin of healthy cells, increasing the chance that all the cancerous cells were removed. Chemotherapy is offered following surgery to kill off any remaining cancer cells in the body, including cells the surgeon may have been forced to leave behind if it was impossible to remove the entire tumor.