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San Diego Study: This Rare Type Of Cancer Is Being Overdiagnosed

A less serious type of appendix tumor is seen in this undated image.
UC San Diego Health
A less serious type of appendix tumor is seen in this undated image.

Appendix cancer is rare. It is diagnosed in fewer than 1,000 Americans every year, according to MD Anderson Cancer Center.

But San Diego researchers are out with a new study suggesting many of those cases could be overdiagnosed.

For a new study, UC San Diego researcher Dr. Mark Valasek and his colleagues reviewed dozens of cases. They found that about 30 percent of patients were initially told they had a worse type of appendix cancer than they actually had.

"A lot of the cases that were diagnosed as a more severe form of cancer were actually an intermediate or low-grade form of cancer," Valasek said. "They may not need as much follow-up treatment."

Valasek said due to the rarity of appendix cancer, many doctors may only encounter it once in their careers. He wants to see diagnosis criteria standardized in order to help doctors better arrive at the right determination.

"If there's overinterpretation — meaning putting something in a more malignant category than it might actually be — the concern is that that may lead to overtreatment," said Valasek.

San Diego Study: This Rare Type Of Cancer Is Being Overdiagnosed
Appendix cancer is rare, but San Diego researchers are out with a new study suggesting many cases could be overdiagnosed.

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