What is Metastatic adenocarcinoma?
Adenocarcinoma (; plural adenocarcinomas or adenocarcinomata ) is a type of cancerous tumor that can occur in several parts of the body. It is defined as neoplasia of epithelial tissue that has glandular origin, glandular characteristics, or both. Adenocarcinomas are part of the larger grouping of carcinomas. Cancers that are adenocarcinomas are often usually called by more precise terms omitting the word, where these exist. Thus invasive ductal carcinoma, the most common form of breast cancer, is adenocarcinoma but does not use the term in its name, but esophageal adenocarcinoma does, to distinguish it from the other common type of esophageal cancer, esophageal squamous cell carcinoma, which is not adenocarcinoma. Several of the most common forms of cancer are adenocarcinomas, and the various sorts of adenocarcinoma vary greatly in all their aspects, so that few useful generalizations can be made about them.
In the most specific usage (narrowest sense), the glandular origin or traits are exocrine; endocrine gland tumors, such as a VIPoma, an insulinoma, or a pheochromocytoma, are typically not referred to as adenocarcinomas but rather are often called neuroendocrine tumors. Epithelial tissue sometimes includes, but is not limited to, the surface layer of skin, glands, and a variety of other tissue that lines the cavities and organs of the body. Epithelial tissue can be derived embryologically from any of the germ layers (ectoderm, endoderm, or mesoderm). To be classified as adenocarcinoma, the cells do not necessarily need to be part of a gland, as long as they have secretory properties. Adenocarcinoma is the malignant counterpart to adenoma, which is the benign form of such tumors. Sometimes adenomas transform into adenocarcinomas, but most do not.
Well differentiated adenocarcinomas tend to resemble the glandular tissue that they are derived from, while poorly differentiated adenocarcinomas may not. By staining the cells from a biopsy, a pathologist can determine whether the tumor is an adenocarcinoma or some other type of cancer. Adenocarcinomas can arise in many tissues of the body owing to the ubiquitous nature of glands within the body, and, more fundamentally, to the potency of epithelial cells. While each gland may not be secreting the same substance, as long as there is an exocrine function to the cell, it is considered glandular and its malignant form is therefore named adenocarcinoma.
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