What is Adenocarcinoma?

Although commonly associated with lung cancer, adenocarcinoma is a type of cancer that develops in cells lining glandular types of internal organs, such as the lungs, breasts, colon, prostate, stomach, pancreas, and cervix. Another type of adenocarcinoma, mucinous adenocarcinoma, accounts for only 10-15 percent of all adenocarcinomas and is particular to aggressive carcinomas that are comprised of at least sixty percent mucus.

Adenocarcinoma is associated with exposure to asbestos or other workplace carcinogens, as well as smoking.

Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer & Adenocarcinoma

Non-small cell lung cancers make up over three quarters of all new lung cancer cases in the United States. While there is only one type of small cell lung cancer, there are three types of non-small cell lung cancer. The three types of non-small cell lung cancer are squamous carcinoma, large cell carcinoma, and adenocarcinoma. When adenocarcinoma develops in the lung’s air sacs, it is called bronchioalveolar adenocarcinoma. About forty percent of all lung cancer cases diagnosed today is adenocarcinoma.

Like other cancers, adenocarcinoma is the growth of abnormal cells. These cancerous cells multiply out of control and form a tumor. In the lung, as the tumor grows, it destroys parts of the lung. Eventually, the tumor’s abnormal cells can spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body, including the local lymph nodes in the chest and the central portion of the chest, called the mediastinum; the liver; the bones; the adrenal glands; and other organs, including the brain.

Adenocarcinoma is more likely than other types of lung cancer to be contained in one area of the body. If it is truly localized, it may also respond better than other lung cancers to treatment, especially surgical removal of the tumor and draining lymph nodes.

Adenocarcinoma is the most common form of lung cancer. Most of this type of cancer is found in smokers. However, it also is the most frequent type of lung cancer seen in nonsmokers. It is the most common form of lung cancer seen in women and people younger than 45.

As with other forms of lung cancer, you are more likely to get adenocarcinoma if you:

  • Are exposed to asbestos.  Asbestos is a fibrous mineral that is used in home insulation, fireproofing, tiles for floors and ceilings, automobile brake linings, and other products. It is believed that asbestos fibers can cause lung cancer. People at risk of lung cancer include workers who are exposed to asbestos on the job (miners, construction workers, shipyard workers and auto mechanics who work with brakes), and people who live or work in buildings in which building products that contain asbestos are deteriorating. In addition to the adenocarcinoma type of lung cancer, individuals who have been exposed to asbestos, and particular types of asbestos, are also at a significant greater risk of developing a specialized type of lung cancer called mesothelioma.
  • Are exposed to other carcinogens in the workplace.  These include uranium, arsenic, vinyl chloride, nickel chromates, coal products, mustard gas, chloromethyl ethers, gasoline, diesel exhaust and high levels of talc dust.
  • Smoke cigarettes.  Smokers have 13 times more risk of developing lung cancer than nonsmokers. Cigarette smoke is associated with most cases of adenocarcinoma. Smoking is by far the leading risk factor for lung cancer, substantially more significant than all the following risk factors combined.
  • Breathe cigarette smoke.  Nonsmokers who inhale the cigarette fumes of smokers have an increased risk of lung cancer.
  • Are exposed to radon gas.  Radon is a colorless, odorless radioactive gas that is formed in the ground. It seeps into the lower floors of homes and public buildings and can contaminate drinking water. Radon exposure is the second leading cause of lung cancer. It’s not clear whether elevated radon levels contribute to lung cancer in nonsmokers. However, research has shown that radon exposure contributes to increased rates of lung cancer in smokers and in people exposed to higher levels of radon, such as miners. You can test the levels of radon in your home and surrounding area by using commercially available radon testing kits.

Diagnosis, Prognosis

Your doctor will ask you whether you smoke or whether you live with a smoker. If you smoke, your doctor will ask you how much you smoke and how long you have smoked. Your doctor also will ask whether you have worked in an industry where you may have been exposed to asbestos or other carcinogens.

Call your doctor promptly if you have any of the symptoms of lung cancer, especially if you are a smoker or you have worked in an industry with high exposure to asbestos.

The outlook depends on the stage of the cancer and the overall health of the patient. In general, the prognosis is poor, especially if the lung cancer has spread to areas outside of the chest wall or has involved the lymph nodes of the mediastinum. This cancer can only be cured when surgery or radiation therapy can completely remove the tumor. However, many lung cancers are diagnosed at a stage when this is not possible. About 17 percent of people with adenocarcinoma survive more than 5 years after diagnosis.

What can I do?

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with adenocarcinoma, you may be entitled to compensation. For a free legal consultation, contact us today!

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