Appendiceal Cancer Diagnosis

Cancer of the appendix is hard to diagnose in its earliest stages because it has few symptoms. There are no reliable blood or urine tests for diagnosing appendix cancer.  If you are showing signs or symptoms that suggest you may have the disease, your doctor will do a physical examination and take a medical history. He or she will ask questions about your symptoms and illnesses you may have had in the past. You may then be sent for some tests, which may include:

  • Imaging: Imaging tests allow your doctor to see if there is a visible tumor in or around the appendix. Types of imaging tests are:

    • CT scan

    • MRI scan

    • PET scan

  • Scopes: These long tubes with a light and camera on one end allow doctors to look inside your gastrointestinal system for any visible tumors. One common type of test using a scope is:

    • Colonoscopy. A colonoscope is inserted in your rectum and threaded up into the colon. Occasionally, an endoscopist may see a tumor growing out of the appendix into the colon.

  • Biopsy: In this test, a small piece of tissue is removed from a suspicious area and sent to a laboratory to be examined for abnormal or cancerous cells.

If you have had tests elsewhere, the gastrointestinal cancer experts at Memorial Sloan Kettering can provide you with a second opinion.