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Mucinous Adenocarcinoma of the Colon and Rectum

An Overview of the Mucinous Form of Adenocarcinoma


Updated: February 12, 2007

Colorectal cancer comes in many forms, including adenocarcinoma, leiomyosarcoma, lymphoma, melanoma, and neuroendocrine tumors. Adenocarcinoma is the most common type of colorectal cancer and has two subtypes, signet ring cell and mucinous adenocarcinoma. This article discusses mucinous adenocarcinoma.

What is an adenocarcinoma? "Adeno-" is a prefix that means "gland." In general, glands secrete things and are classified as endocrine or exocrine. Endocrine glands secrete things into the bloodstream, like hormones. Exocrine glands secrete things that go outside of the body, like mucus and sweat.

A carcinoma is a malignant tumor that starts in epithelial tissue. Put the two words together and you get "adenocarcinoma," which means a malignant tumor in epithelial tissue, specifically in a gland.

The term "mucinous" means that something has a lot of mucus. Adenocarcinomas that are comprised of at least 60 percent mucus are referred to as mucinous adenocarcinomas.

Scientists think that the presence of mucus allows cancer cells to spread faster. As a result, mucinous adenocarcinomas are considered more aggressive than regular adenocarcinomas and are harder to successfully treat. Mucinous adenocarcinomas account for about 10-15 percent of all adenocarcinomas.

Other Types of Colorectal Cancer: Sources:
  1. Buetow, Peter and Buck, James. "Colorectal Adenocarcinoma." RadioGraphics 15.1 (Jan. 1995). Archives of the AFIP. 5 Jul. 2006 [http://www.rsna.org/REG/publications/rg/afip/privateM/1995/0015/0001/0127/1.htm].
  2. Okuyama, Takashi and Oya, Masatoshi. "Budding (Sprouting) as a Useful Prognostic Marker in Colorectal Mucinous Carcinoma." Japanese Journal of Clinical Oncology 32.10 (2002): 412-416. Oxford Journals. 5 Jul. 2006 [http://jjco.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/32/10/412].
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