Dr. Brian Loggie Answers Questions: Is Appendix Cancer Hereditary?

Brian W. Loggie, MD, CM, FRCSC, FACS is a Professor of Surgery and is Chief, Division of Surgical Oncology and Director, Cancer Biology Program at Creighton University School of Medicine in Omaha, NE.

Dr. Loggie’s expertise includes the treatment of peritoneal carcinomatosis, peritoneal mesothelioma, pseudomyxoma peritonei and all peritoneal surface malignancies, abdominopelvic and retroperitoneal sarcomas, cutaneous malignant melanoma, sphincter-preserving treatment for rectal tumors, and management of complex primary or recurrent solid tumors.

Dr. Loggie recently answered questions presented by members of the PMP Pals' Network who are concerned about the possibility of hereditary or environmental factors that may possibly be associated with Appendix Cancer/Pseudomyxoma Peritonei.

Is there any evidence that appendiceal cancer/Pseudomyxoma Peritonei, is a hereditary or familial disease?

“We have investigated this issue closely here at Creighton University School of Medicine.Dr Henry Lynch, for whom Lynch Syndrome (familial colorectal cancer) was named, is a colleague and is Chair of Preventive Medicine here in our Hereditary Cancer Center.

To our surprise, we have NOT found a familial association for appendix neoplasms and Pseudomyxoma Peritonei. In fact, we have seen a rate of “familiality” (family history of colon or appendix tumors suggesting an inherited pattern in the family) that is less than expected by one fifth (based on risk from right sided colon cancer: about 1% versus 5%). Overall, I think this is good news for families!”

How often does appendiceal cancer occur?“The relative estimate for incidence of appendix neoplasms is typically estimated at about 1% the incidence of colorectal cancer. I think that is reasonable; if you take the average size of the appendix, extrapolate to mucosal area, and then compare that to the average size/area of the colon, you get a ratio of about 1%.”

Where does Pseudomyxoma Peritonei originate?

“Ninety nine per cent of Pseudomyxoma Peritonei cases originate with the appendix.

My sense is that a big difference between appendix neoplasms or “PMP”, and colon cancer is their location. The appendix arises embryologically as a diverticulum (out pouching) of the right colon, and is histologically similar to colon.”

What are some of the differences between appendiceal and colorectal cancer?

“We see appendix tumors diagnosed typically earlier than for colorectal cancer. Small adenomas progress sooner in the appendix, where they can rupture or infiltrate causing problems leading to diagnosis based on the small size of the appendix.”

What are the causes of colon cancer?

“The current thoughts are that colon tumors develop out of a series of changes (cumulative mutations occurring in specific genes) occurring over a number of years, whereby adenomas (early non-malignant polyps) develop and grow, and can further evolve into cancers including malignant polyps or adenocarcinomas.

An adenoma, or cancer, growing in the colon has a lot more space (and therefore time) in order to grow before causing problems that lead to diagnosis.

Again, supportive of this is the earlier age of diagnosis of appendix cancer/Pseudomyxoma Peritonei patients and the approximate relative incidence (about 1% rather than ten times less or ten times more) seem to match in terms of an estimated percentage for the mucosal areas at risk.”

What are some of the some of the similarities between appendiceal and colon cancer?

“We see a similar mutation rate for the Ras gene in Pseudomyxoma Peritonei as we see for colon cancer (about 40-45%).

Thus, in a sense, my view is that Pseudomyxoma Peritonei represents a “juvenile” form of colon cancer. This may explain a tendency to be better differentiated and explain some of the characteristics of PMP.

The appendix is a diverticulum (literally defined as a “way house of ill-repute!”) that is not likely exposed to the continuous stream of stool as is normal colon mucosa (and therefore perhaps less exposure to bile and environmental agents). This could also play a role in some observed differences.

These are my current observations; we have not seen an inherited or environmental pattern.”
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For more information about this article:
Dr. Brian Loggie

Dr. Brian Loggie’s contact information and professional bio are posted on the SURGEONS and SPECIALISTS link at www.pmppals.org

Information about Dr. Loggie’s research program is posted on the DONATE TO RESEARCH link at www.pmppals.org

Dr. Henry Lynch

Dr Henry Lynch is the Chair of Preventive Medicine in the Hereditary Cancer Center at Creighton University. Lynch has published more than 700 journal articles and books focused on diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of hereditary disorders, especially cancer. He has devoted much of his life to the study and research of family medical history data leading him to identify cancer syndromes and their patterns of inheritance among generations of families. Lynch Syndrome, aka hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC), is an inherited cancer affecting the digestive tract, especially the colon and rectum.

Families with Lynch Syndrome have an increased risk of cancers of the stomach, small intestine, liver, gallbladder ducts, upper urinary tract, brain, skin, and prostate, and may be a cause of endometriosis.

For more information about Creighton University’s Hereditary Cancer Center, see the Hereditary and Familial Cancer section on the PSEUDOMYXOMA PERITONEI link at www.pmppals.org

For more information about the KRAS mutation, see the DIAGNOSTICS link at www.pmppals.org

For definitions of medical terminology, see the GLOSSARY link at www.pmppals.org.

Articles posted in PMP Pals and on www.pmppals.org are written from the perspective of patients and their families, unless otherwise noted, and are not intended to substitute for specific medical care. Patients should seek the counsel of their individual specialists regarding their specific personal needs.Copyright © 2011 by Gabriella Graham/PMP Pals’ Network/All rights reserved.Visit us on the web at www.pmppals.org
Valentine’s Day: Love Grows in “Sickness and in Health!”

Longtime “PMP Pals”, Bud and Ginny, share their Valentine’s Day story, in their own words. Bud is the “Pal Patient” and Ginny is the “Pal Caregiver.”

Bud recalls, “We have been married for 54 years.  We met at Drexel University in Philadelphia. One evening, while working on the college newspaper, we found ourselves locked in the student union building.  While waiting for the guard to come on his rounds to let us out, we found we had one thing in common – dancing! Thus began our romance!  Our first date was at a formal college dance.  We never sat down unless it was a slow number or the band took a break. The next time we went dancing, Ginny wore comfortable shoes! We married two years after our initial meeting, taking the traditional marriage vows of in sickness and in health until death do us part.”

Ginny continues, “Little did we realize that we would be confronted with Bud’s diagnosis of Appendix Cancer (Mucinous Adenocarcinoma) 43 years into our marriage! In 1999, a poorly informed oncologist, declared that Bud should retire and advised us to take all the trips we had been delaying saying ‘you only have six months to two years to live.’

His announcement hit us like a brick!  Bud had always been healthy and had not been absent from work since 1963. Bud’s initial reaction was ‘Cancer happens to other people’… certainly not to him!

Immediately upon leaving the oncologist’s office, we turned to each other and almost simultaneously declared ‘we don’t accept his death sentence!’ We decided that, together, we would prove him wrong! We spent the following four months learning about the disease, and visiting different oncologists, and extensively using the PMP Pals’ Network.”

Ginny accompanied Bud to every doctor visit. Together, they organized and prepared questions ahead of time and took notes during each consultation. It became apparent that detailed surgery (CRS with HIPEC) performed by an experienced specialist, was the appropriate course of treatment for Bud. Ginny supported Bud’s decision to proceed with specialized surgery.

Throughout Bud’s hospitalization, followed by his recuperation at home, Ginny served as Bud’s faithful caregiver and advocate, speaking up whenever anything was amiss, and personally attending to many of his needs.  Bud recalls, “While it was difficult to verbalize it, I believe our love for one another was strengthened in many ways during the hospitalization and many months of diet experimentation attempting to find foods acceptable to my new digestion system sans a stomach.

Now, here we are 56 years after being locked in the student union building! Bud has been cancer free for 11.5 years! We travel extensively, enjoy spending time with our children and grandchildren and serve as Pal Mentors to other individuals and couples participating in the PMP Pals’ Network!

Yes, we still enjoy dancing and are very much in love!”





Articles posted in PMP Pals and on www.pmppals.org are written from the perspective of patients and their family caregivers and are not intended to substitute for licensed, professional, legal or medical advice. Individuals should seek the counsel of licensed healthcare providers regarding their specific medical concerns.

Copyright 2011 © by Gabriella Graham/ PMP Pals’ Network. All rights reserved.

Visit us on the web at www.pmppals.org  We have HOPE for YOU!