What is adenocarcinoma?

Throughout your body, you have small glands that create mucus. Mucus is a sticky fluid that helps protect your body against infections and stomach acid. Like all the cells in your body, the cells in your mucus glands are in a constant cycle of dying and being replaced by new cells. Sometimes when new cells are created, the DNA in the cell will mutate or change, causing it to create more and more new cells uncontrollably. When this occurs in the DNA in your mucus glands, you develop a type of cancer called adenocarcinoma. Anywhere in your body that has mucus cells can develop adenocarcinoma. Though adenocarcinoma is the specific cancer, most people recognize the name of the cancer by the organ it affects. Adenocarcinoma may sometimes be called:

However, other types of cells, such as squamous cells or neuroendocrine cells, may also cause these cancers.

By leading a healthy lifestyle, you can lower your risk for adenocarcinoma. To reduce your cancer risk, you should:
  • Eat a healthy diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables
  • Avoid smoking
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Only drink alcohol in moderation
  • Get all recommended cancer screenings on time

Symptoms of adenocarcinoma

Some forms of adenocarcinoma can be found before any symptoms appear. Early detection gives you more treatment options and improves your outlook for a cancer-free future. Ask your primary care doctor if you should get cancer screenings such as a colonoscopy, lung CT scan, Pap smear or prostate exam. Symptoms of adenocarcinoma are different depending on where the cancer is located. Pay attention to your body to recognize changes in your health that may be signs of cancer. These may include:

  • Weight loss
  • Pain in the throat
  • Cough that does not go away for weeks
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Hoarseness
  • Vomiting
  • Blood in your stool
  • Blood in your mucus
  • A change in your bowel habits


Cancer Care

From diagnosis and throughout treatment, Main Line Health cancer specialists (oncologists) provide compassionate care for you and your loved ones through all stages of cancer treatment.