The appendix is a pouch-like tube, around 10cm long, attached to the first section of the colon.
If cells in the appendix become abnormal and multiply without control, the cells form a tumour, which can be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous, meaning it can spread to other parts of the body).
Primary appendix cancer is not common but there are several types of tumour that can start in the appendix. Over 60 per cent of appendix cancers are carcinoid. Causes are unknown but it is usually diagnosed around the age of 40.
Things to look out for
The most common symptoms include:
- Ascites (fluid in the abdomen)
- Pain in the abdomen or pelvis area
- Increased waistline, with or without a protrusion of the bellybutton
- Changes in bowel function
These symptoms can indicate a number of things other than cancer but, if they don’t improve after several weeks, consult a doctor.