A cancer of the intestinal gland cells, adenocarcinomas represent more than 95 percent of colon and rectal cancers. “Adeno” is the prefix for gland, and adenocarcinomas typically start within the intestinal gland cells that line the inside of the colon and/or rectum. They tend to start in the inner layer and then spread deeper to other layers. There are two main subtypes of adenocarcinoma:
- Mucinous adenocarcinoma is made up of approximately 60 percent mucus. The mucus can cause cancer cells to spread faster and become more aggressive than typical adenocarcinomas. Mucinous adenocarcinomas account for 10 to 15 percent of all colon and rectal adenocarcinomas.
- Signet ring cell adenocarcinoma accounts for less than one percent of adenocarcinomas. Named for its appearance under a microscope, signet ring cell adenocarcinoma is typically aggressive and may be more difficult to treat.
Colorectal adenocarcinoma treatment options
The most common form of colorectal adenocarcinoma treatment is surgery. Other treatments include chemotherapy, targeted therapy and radiation therapy.