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What is a Mucinous Cystadenocarcinoma?

Mary McMahon
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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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.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a The Health Board researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By Farah1 — On Jun 28, 2011

I just recently got through my first session of chemotherapy. I must say, the treatment is worse than the disease! I was feeling fine until the doctor told me I had an inoperable tumor. Chemo was my only option.

The worst part of chemo is not having any energy. It seems as if when the radiation gets rid of your cancer cells, that it zaps away the rest of your cells so you feel weak. Thankfully, my hair has not thinned out as much as they told me it would.

Hopefully my second treatment goes fine and I do not need any more. I am only 42 years old, and I have a whole lot of life left in me! As much as I complain about my chemo, I am glad that is an option for me. Some people are not healthy enough to go through it and are sent home to die. We need to find a cure for this horrible disease, and soon.

By drhs07 — On Jun 26, 2011

@Testy - I am glad that your sister is doing better. It is nice to hear cancer survivor stories.

My father, on the other hand, was not so lucky, He had a tumor on his kidney, which was in a hard place to detect with just a regular physical. He did not discover that he had cancer until he went in to hospital because he had a bad case of the flu. I am not sure how the doctor detected the cancer. I was very young when he got sick.

By the time that they did catch the tumor, it was too late to operate on it. Within a month of going into the hospital, he passed away.

Cancer is a terrible disease. It does not discriminate when it comes to race, nationality, or socioeconomic status. Anybody can succumb to the disease. I really hope a cure is found within my generation.

Thank you to the author for writing the article. It was pretty informative.

By Testy — On Jun 23, 2011

Thank you for this article. My sister was recently diagnosed with breast cancer, and the doctor said that she had this kind of tumor.

I especially like the fact that you mentioned how easily that this kind of tumor can be undetected, for even years at a time.

Thankfully my sister got mammograms yearly. As soon as the doctor located a lump, he immediately did a biopsy to diagnosis the tumor.

She had surgery to remove the tumor, which was only about the size of a dime. She did not have to go through chemotherapy because the surgeon was able to remove all of it. She is very blessed to be alive, and that her medical case was a simple one.

I hope telling her story makes people realize the importance of having regular physical examinations. Preventative medical care is the best medical care.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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