Abdominal Cancer

By Spader, Catherine, RN

What is abdominal cancer?

Abdominal cancer is a type of cancer that occurs when there is an uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells anywhere in the abdomen, the area between the lower chest and the groin. The abdomen consists of many organs, including the stomach, intestines, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, esophagus, and numerous blood vessels. Abdominal cancer is a general term for a variety of cancers.

Common forms of abdominal cancers include:

  • Colorectal cancer

  • Liver cancer

  • Pancreatic cancer

  • Kidney cancer (renal cell cancer)

  • Stomach cancer (gastric cancer)

Rare forms of abdominal cancer include:

  • Adrenocortical cancer (cancer of the adrenal glands, a pair of organs that produce hormones)

  • Primary peritoneal cancer (cancer of the lining of the inside of the abdomen that covers many abdominal organs)

  • Peritoneal mesothelioma (cancer of the lining of the inside of the abdomen that is caused by exposure to asbestos)

Normally, cells in the abdomen that are old or damaged will stop dividing and die. These cells are replaced by healthy young cells. Abdominal cancer occurs when old or damaged cells divide and multiply uncontrollably. This generally results in the development of a malignant mass of tissue (tumor) in the specific organ of the abdomen.

If left untreated, abdominal cancer cells can continue to multiply and spread to other parts of the body—a process called metastasis. As abdominal cancer progresses, it interferes with vital processes and functions of the organ where it began and the organs where it has spread, such as the lymphatic system, lungs, and other abdominal organs.

Abdominal cancer can be fatal, especially if undetected and untreated. Prognosis of abdominal cancer varies depending on the type of cancer and the stage of advancement; your age, medical history, and coexisting conditions or diseases; and other factors.

For example, colorectal cancer often develops from noncancerous adenomatous intestinal polyps in the colon that can become malignant or cancerous over time. Prognosis is excellent when intestinal polyps are detected and removed before cancer develops. Prognosis is also good if the cancer cells have not spread outside the polyp. Regular screening, such as a colonoscopy, can look for early signs of colorectal cancer.

Other types of abdominal cancer, especially pancreatic cancer, stomach cancer, and liver cancer, can be more difficult to detect and treat and have a bleaker prognosis, especially if diagnosed in later stages of the disease.

Abdominal cancer can lead to life-threatening complications and be fatal. Seeking regular medical care offers the best chances of discovering abdominal cancer in its earliest, most curable stage. If you have abdominal cancer, following your treatment plan may help reduce your risk of serious complications.


What are the symptoms of abdominal cancer?

Symptoms of abdominal cancer vary depending on the specific type of cancer, stage of advancement, and other factors. Many people experience no symptoms in the early stages of some forms of abdominal cancer, such as colorectal cancer, stomach cancer, pancreatic cancer, and liver cancer. Symptoms of abdominal cancer can also be vague and similar to symptoms of other diseases, disorders and condit... Read more about abdominal cancersymptoms


What causes abdominal cancer?

Abdominal cancer occurs when old or damaged cells divide and multiply uncontrollably. The underlying cause of this varies depending on the specific form of cancer. For example:

  • Colorectal cancer commonly develops from adenomatous intestinal polyps in the colon that are not removed while still benign.

  • Liver cancer is often caused by cer... Read more about abdominal cancercauses


How is abdominal cancer treated?

Treatment of abdominal cancer begins with seeking regular medical care throughout your life. Regular medical care allows a health care professional to best provide early screening tests, such as digital exams and fecal occult blood tests. Regular medical care also provides an opportunity for your health care professional to promptly evaluate symptoms and your risks of developing abdominal cance... Read more about abdominal cancertreatments

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Aug 9, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

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This Article is Filed Under: Digestive System, Cancer, Heartburn and GERD, Crohn's Disease

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