What Is Adenocarcinoma?


Adenocarcinoma is a type of cancer that originates in the glands and tissues which  produce and secrete mucus or other substances.. These glands produce and secrete substances such as hormones, enzymes, and mucus. Adenocarcinoma can occur in different parts of the body including the lungs, colon, pancreas, and prostate. The exact causes of adenocarcinoma are not well understood, but certain risk factors have been identified such as age, family history of cancer, exposure to chemicals and pollutants, and lifestyle factors.1 Early detection and treatment of adenocarcinoma can increase the chances of successful treatment and improve patient outcomes.2 It is important for individuals to be aware of the symptoms and risk factors of adenocarcinoma.

Causes of adenocarcinoma

Some of these risk factors include:

  • Age: The risk of adenocarcinoma increases with age
  • Pollution: Poor air quality is associated with lung adenocarcinomas
  • Smoking: Smoking is a major risk factor for adenocarcinoma of the lung
  • Family history: If a family member has had adenocarcinoma, you have an increased risk of developing the disease
  • Exposure to certain chemicals: Exposure to certain chemicals such as asbestos and benzene can increase the risk of adenocarcinoma
  • Diet: A diet high in fat and low in fruits and vegetables has been linked to an increased risk of adenocarcinoma of the colon and rectum
  • Chronic inflammation: Chronic inflammation in the body, such as in the case of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), can increase the risk of adenocarcinoma
  • Obesity: Obesity has been linked to an increased risk of adenocarcinoma in the colon, rectum, and pancreas

Signs and symptoms of adenocarcinoma

The signs and symptoms of adenocarcinoma depend on the location of the cancer. Some common symptoms include:

  • Abdominal pain or swelling
  • Blood in the stool/faeces
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Coughing up blood

If you have any of these symptoms, it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible to rule out cancer.

Management and treatment for adenocarcinoma

The management and treatment of adenocarcinoma depend  on the location and stage of the cancer, as well as the person's overall health. Some common treatments for adenocarcinoma include:

  • Surgery: Surgery is often the first line of treatment for adenocarcinoma. The type of surgery will depend on the location and stage of the cancer
  • Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells. It is often used in combination with surgery to help shrink the cancer or prevent it from returning
  • Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy uses high-energy beams to kill cancer cells. It is often used in combination with surgery or chemotherapy
  • Targeted therapy: Targeted therapy uses drugs to target specific proteins in cancer cells that help them grow and divide. This type of therapy is often used in combination with chemotherapy
  • Hormonal therapy: Hormonal therapy is used to treat adenocarcinomas of the breast, prostate, and other glands that are sensitive to hormones
  • Immunotherapy: Immunotherapy helps the body's immune system fight cancer cells. It is a newer type of treatment for adenocarcinoma and is still being studied


How is adenocarcinoma diagnosed?

Adenocarcinoma is typically diagnosed with a combination of tests, including:

  • Physical examination: Your doctor will perform a physical exam to look for any signs or symptoms of cancer
  • Imaging tests: Imaging tests, such as X-rays, CT scans, and MRI scans, can help your doctor see the location and size of the cancer
  • Biopsy: A biopsy is a procedure in which a small piece of tissue is removed and examined under a microscope to confirm the presence of cancer cells
  • Blood tests: Blood tests can help determine if the cancer has spread to other parts of the body

How can I prevent adenocarcinoma?

While there is no sure way to prevent adenocarcinoma,3 there are some steps you can take to reduce your risk:

  • Don't smoke: If you smoke, quitting is the best way to reduce your risk of adenocarcinoma and many other types of cancer
  • Eat a healthy diet: A diet high in fruits and vegetables and low in fat can help reduce your risk of adenocarcinoma
  • Exercise regularly: Regular exercise can help maintain a healthy weight, which can reduce your risk of adenocarcinoma
  • Avoid exposure to harmful chemicals: If you work with chemicals, take steps to protect yourself and avoid exposure to chemicals that can increase your risk of adenocarcinoma

Who are at risk  of adenocarcinoma?

Anyone can develop adenocarcinoma, but some people have a higher risk of developing this type of cancer, including:

  • People who smoke
  • People with a family history of adenocarcinoma
  • People who have been exposed to certain chemicals
  • People with a diet high in fat and low in fruits and vegetables
  • People with chronic inflammation
  • Obese individuals

How common is adenocarcinoma?

Adenocarcinoma is the most common type of cancer in the United States. It accounts for about 40% of all cancers and is the leading cause of cancer death.s

When should I see a doctor?

If you have any symptoms related to adenocarcinoma, such as abdominal pain, blood in the stool, or unexplained weight loss, it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible. Early diagnosis and treatment can improve your chances of a successful outcome.


Adenocarcinoma is a type of cancer that begins in the glands and tissues that produce and secrete mucus or other substances. It can occur in various parts of the body, including the lungs, pancreas, breast, prostate, and colon. Adenocarcinoma's exact cause is unknown , but certain risk factors have been identified, such as age, smoking, family history, exposure to chemicals, diet, and chronic inflammation. The signs and symptoms of adenocarcinoma depend on the location of the cancer but can include abdominal pain, blood in the stool, weight loss, fatigue, and shortness of breath. Treatment options for adenocarcinoma include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted therapy, hormonal therapy, and immunotherapy. To reduce your risk of adenocarcinoma, it is important to avoid smoking, eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and avoid exposure to harmful chemicals and pollutants. If you have symptoms related to adenocarcinoma, it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible.


  1. Ushio J, Kanno A, Ikeda E, Ando K, Nagai H, Miwata T, Kawasaki Y, Tada Y, Yokoyama K, Numao N, Tamada K. Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma: Epidemiology and risk factors. Diagnostics. 2021 Mar 20;11(3):562.
  2. Pereira SP, Oldfield L, Ney A, Hart PA, Keane MG, Pandol SJ, Li D, Greenhalf W, Jeon CY, Koay EJ, Almario CV. Early detection of pancreatic cancer. The lancet Gastroenterology & hepatology. 2020 Jul 1;5(7):698-710.
  3. van den Brandt PA. The impact of a healthy lifestyle on the risk of esophageal and gastric cancer subtypes. European Journal of Epidemiology. 2022 Sep;37(9):931-45.
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Dr. Riya Dave

Bachelors of Dental Surgery – BDS, Gujrat University, Gujrat

Dr. Riya Dave is a dentist with strong skills related to medicine and dentistry. She has a clinical
exposure for 3 years with a knowledge of anatomy, physiology, basic general medicine and surgery,
pharmacology and dental expertise in areas related to oral medicine, restorative dentistry, she is
detail-oriented with keen interest in medicine and pharmacology. She has organizational and
observational skills with attention to detail, analysis of data, verbal and communication skills.

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