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What Is Acinar Adenocarcinoma?

By Karize Uy
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Acinar adenocarcinoma is a type of cancer in which epithelial cells shaped like cubes or columns become malignant and form glands. These cells would then bunch together and create either an “acini,” which looks like a raspberry cluster, or tubules, resulting in a neoplasm or an abnormal enlargement of tissue. Acinar adenocarcinoma has been commonly seen as a type of lung cancer and accounts for the majority of malignant prostate glands as well.

The medical term “acinar adenocarcinoma” is derived from both Latin and Greek languages: the word “acinar” originates from a Latin word acinus that means “berry,” while “adenocarcinoma” is a combination of the words adeno and carcinoma, both of which mean “gland” and “cancer,” respectively. In general, cancers that are labeled adenocarcinomas are those that involve the epithelial tissues, wherein the malignant cells are able to excrete a substance, a similar function of glands. They are also often life-threatening as they do not exhibit noticeable symptoms until the advanced stages.

In the case of the lungs, the reason why symptoms are not initially felt is because the malignant cells often develop in the pleura, the thin layer that covers and protects the lungs, and not in the lungs themselves. Only when the neoplasm has become too large and the pleura have pushed towards the lungs can the patient feel some discomfort and difficulty in breathing. Malignant cells often appear in standard chest x-rays as darkened areas. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), acinar adenocarcinoma of the lungs is the most common type of lung cancer, resulting in up to 35% of all lung cancer cases. Chronic smokers are highly at risk to develop acinar adenocarcinoma of the lungs, although nonsmokers who inhale second-hand smoke are also vulnerable.

Similarly, acinar adenocarcinoma of the prostate is the most common form of prostate cancer, probably representing as much as 90% of all cases. The clustered malignant cells often cause prostatitis, or the inflammation of the prostate. This results in the obstruction of the urethra and, consequently, difficulty and pain in urinating, a usual symptom of advanced prostate cancer. The development of the adenocarcinoma progresses slowly, though, so patients may not sense any symptoms until the prostate becomes too inflamed and the cancer has spread to other areas. Men who are aged 50 and above are most susceptible to having acinar adenocarcinoma of the prostate, although lifestyle, genes, and race are also important risk factors.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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