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An appendix cancer diagnosis is often made unexpectedly during surgery or tests performed for other reasons, such as diagnosing or treating acute appendicitis. That’s because early-stage appendiceal cancer rarely produces any noticeable symptoms.

Because there are no reliable screening tests for appendix cancer, if an individual experiences any possible signs, such as severe abdominal pain or bloating, it is important to seek medical attention right away. While appendiceal cancer is very rare and these symptoms are much more likely to be caused by something else, it’s always best to find out for sure.

To confirm or rule out an appendix cancer diagnosis, a physician may:

  • Perform a physical examination
  • Ask questions about a patient’s general health, lifestyle (including smoking and drinking habits) and family medical history
  • Order blood and urine tests
  • Order one or more imaging tests, such as an ultrasound, a CT or CAT (computed axial tomography) scan, an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan or a PET (positron emission tomography) scan
  • Order radionuclide scanning, which can test for carcinoid tumors by injecting a small amount of a radioactive, hormone-like substance into a vein, then using a special camera to watch where the substance accumulates

If appendix cancer is suspected, a physician will typically order a biopsy (the removal of a small tissue sample for evaluation under a microscope by a pathologist). While other tests can suggest the presence of cancer, only a biopsy can provide a definitive appendix cancer diagnosis.

In the renowned Gastrointestinal Oncology Program at Moffitt Cancer Center, a multispecialty team of experts evaluates each patient on a case-by-case basis using the latest diagnostic techniques. Following an appendix cancer diagnosis, our tumor board works together to develop a highly individualized treatment plan designed to ensure the best possible outcome and quality of life for the patient. As a high-volume cancer center, Moffitt has the extensive experience and advanced tools necessary to diagnose and treat even very rare cancers, such as appendix cancer.

If you’ve recently received an appendix cancer diagnosis or would like more information about treatment options, you can turn to the specialists at Moffitt. Call 1-888-663-3488 or complete a new patient registration form online. We see patients with and without referrals.