Treatment Options for Appendix Cancer

Cancer of the appendix is primarily treated with surgery, sometimes in combination with chemotherapy. The type of surgery recommended depends on the type, location, and stage of the cancer, as well as the patient’s health. Radiation therapy is not a common treatment for this disease.

When treating patients with appendix cancer, the best outcomes result from a multidisciplinary approach to your care. At Fox Chase Cancer Center, our team of surgical and medical oncologists work together seamlessly to assess your cancer and help you understand your treatment options. We value our role in helping you and your loved ones make informed decisions about your care.

When you contact Fox Chase, you will be connected with a nurse navigator. The nurse navigator will match you with the right specialists and help you see as many members of your treatment team as possible in one day. Together, your care team will weigh in on your case and create a tailored treatment plan.

Treatment will depend on the stage, size, and location of your cancer as well as your health history and personal goals.

Treatment options at Fox Chase for appendix cancer include:

Appendectomy or Right Hemicolectomy

Total removal of the appendix (appendectomy) may be suggested as a treatment option for appendix cancer. Sometimes a right hemicolectomy (the removal of the right side of the colon along with the appendix) may be suggested. The choice of surgery depends on the size, histology, and location of the tumor.

Cytoreductive Surgery and HIPEC

This treatment option is used for mucinous cancers of the appendix (particularly those associated with PMP or DPAM and peritoneal carcinomatosis) and is only available at specialized cancer centers that have expertise treating appendix cancer and other rare cancers.

Cytoreduction is an extensive open surgery that removes as much cancerous growth and mucin in the abdomen as possible. Parts of the intestine, gallbladder, spleen, ovaries, uterus, and lining of the abdominal cavity may also be removed.

Most patients eligible for cytoreduction will also receive HIPEC. During this procedure, a surgeon bathes the abdominal cavity with heated chemotherapy drugs, which helps kill any remaining cancer cells.

When determining a patient’s eligibility for cytoreduction and HIPEC, Fox Chase specialists take three things into consideration:

  • The histology of the cancer (what type it is, the level of abnormality seen in cell and tissue samples, and the likelihood of growth and spread)
  • Whether cytoreduction can remove all of the cancer
  • The patient’s ability to tolerate the procedure

Cytoreduction and HIPEC have added years to the life expectancy of many patients with appendix cancer.

Systemic Chemotherapy

Systemic chemotherapy, as opposed to the HIPEC, is delivered intravenously or orally. It involves the circulation of cancer-killing drugs throughout the body via the bloodstream.

For cancer of the appendix, chemotherapy may be used before cytoreduction and HIPEC, or it may be an option for patients who are not eligible for cytoreduction and/or HIPEC.

Systemic chemotherapy may also be administered to treat and relieve symptoms of advanced disease.

“We offer all available treatment options for appendix cancer. We have a multidisciplinary team that makes a combined decision on how to tailor the therapy to each patient, because it’s not one-size-fits-all.”

Dr. Namrata (Neena) Vijayvergia, MD, Medical Oncologist