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Metastatic adenocarcinoma is a cancer arising in glandular tissue that spreads to other regions of the body. This type of cancer can be highly aggressive in some cases, and there are a number of treatment options available to manage it. Patients diagnosed with metastatic adenocarcinoma typically work with an oncologist, a physician who focuses on cancer care, and they may see nuclear medicine specialists, as well as other medical specialists during the course of their treatment.
Adenocarcinomas can develop anywhere in the body. Glandular tissue is widespread everywhere from the salivary glands that lubricate the mouth to mucus-producing glands located in the intestines. When glandular cells start dividing and multiplying irregularly, they usually form a polyp, and the cancer can spread through the body as the tumor grows. Metastases can be localized or remote, and this cancer is capable of spreading all the way to the brain, especially in the case of adenocarcinoma originating in the lungs.
Symptoms of metastatic adenocarcinoma vary, depending on where the cancer is located and how far it spreads. A visible polyp may be present in some cases. Patients can experience symptoms like pain, tenderness, and bleeding or spotting. A medical imaging study may show an abnormal growth and this growth can be sampled in a biopsy procedure to learn more about it. At the time of the biopsy, scans may also be conducted to look for any signs of metastases, especially if the adenocarcinoma is in a location known for producing very aggressive tumors.
Removal of the primary tumor is usually recommended, and if the metastases are accessible, they can be taken out as well. Radiation and chemotherapy are also used in metastatic adenocarcinoma treatment to kill any remaining cancer cells and prevent a recurrence. These measures are sometimes curative and the patient may experience a complete recovery. In other instances, they fail to adequately address the cancer, and the patient will eventually die as the cancer spreads throughout the body and grows larger, interfering with organ function.
Patients with a salivary adenocarcinoma diagnosis should ask their physicians about the available treatment options and the prognosis with different treatments. Second opinions can be beneficial for patients who want more information, and it can be helpful to see someone who specializes in treating adenocarcinomas, as that physician has access to the latest information, along with extensive experience. It may be possible to join a clinical trial to access a new and experimental treatment, presenting more options to patients with stubborn metastatic adenocarcinoma.