This is a common form of colorectal cancer.
From About.com Definition of Adenocarcinoma
Let's break it down. "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.
Cause of Adenocarcinoma
Virtually all adenocarcinomas develop from adenomas. In general, the bigger the adenoma, the more likely it is to become cancerous. For example, polyps larger than two centimeters (about the diameter of a nickel) have a 30-50 percent chance of being cancerous. You can learn more about polyp size and colon cancer risk by viewing the Polyp Size Gallery.
By the time colorectal cancer is diagnosed, it has often been growing for several years, first as a non-cancerous polyp (adenoma) and later as cancer. Research indicates that by age 50, one in four people has polyps.
We had thought it was a polyp. We had hoped. The surgeon was surprised by the contents he withdrew with the biopsy needle, and called for the oncologist to come have a look---he was also surprised. They'd never seen anything like it. I'm not sure what well-differentiated means but I understand malignant and aggressive and atypical and hard to treat and high incidence of recurrence.
The cytology report thought it was an epithelial cell tumor, but the lab was also a little baffled by the make-up of the sample. However, they were fairly certain it was cancerous. The histopathology was definite about it being an adenocarcinoma.
Once again our surgeon was very kind and even a little optimistic, but I could tell it was his attempt to be nice and not suck all the hope out of our universe.
Upon researching this, one online vet seemed to confirm what our surgeon said about being "guarded" (the word the surgeon used). That vet said surgery is the best treatment and there is no proof that radiation or chemotherapy will help.
When the entire tumor is removed and there is no evidence of metastasis to surrounding lymph nodes or organs at the time of surgery the prognosis is still guarded, meaning that recurrence of the tumor is likely even in this case. The average life expectancy post surgery for this type of tumor is probably only six months to a year, but patients do seem to be comfortable most of that time, at least in the very small number of cases in which we have diagnosed this problem and attempted surgery. I found a couple of anecdotal reports in which remission periods
of longer than a year were reported, though.
Mike Richards, DVM
We aren't giving up. Our dog otherwise seems healthy and exhibits none of the symptoms that usually drive people to get their dogs checked. We found it by coincidence. I was worried about his anal sac and my vet is excellent and we persisted until we figured out why that one day he had one odd episode that made me think something was wrong with his anal sac. I have learned not to take, "don't find anything here, so it must all be okay" as an answer, learned it the hard way.
(But oh my gosh. Guarded. What a word. Loaded. Fallible. Improbable.)
So we will meet with the oncologist next week. The surgery site ought to be healed enough by then for an examination.
Our hearts and backs feel broken just now.
And it doesn't matter how many times or how many people tell us this is not our fault, right now it seems like we will probably always wonder what might have been (or not have been) if we had not moved here.
So once again, I plead for understanding of my absence.
Copyright 2007 Julie Pippert
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