Primary malignant neoplasms of the appendix: a population-based study from the surveillance, epidemiology and end-results program, 1973-1998

Cancer. 2002 Jun 15;94(12):3307-12. doi: 10.1002/cncr.10589.


Background: Cancer of the appendix is an uncommon disease that is rarely suspected rarely before surgery. Although several case series of these tumors have been published, little research has been anchored in population-based data on cancer of the appendix.

Methods: This analysis included all actively followed cases of appendiceal neoplasms reported to the National Cancer Institute's Surveillance, Epidemiology and End-Results (SEER) program between 1973 and 1998. Tumors were classified as "colonic type" adenocarcinoma, mucinous adenocarcinoma, signet ring cell carcinoma, goblet cell carcinoid, and "malignant carcinoid" (SEER only collects data on carcinoids specifically classified as malignant). We compared incidence, overall survival and survival rates by extent of disease at diagnosis.

Results: Between 1973 and 1998, 2117 appendiceal malignancies were reported to the SEER program, of which 1645 cases were included in the analysis. Age-adjusted incidence of cancer of the appendix was 0.12 cases per 1,000,000 people per year. Demographic characteristics of patients with goblet cell carcinoid tumors were midway between those of patients with malignant carcinoid and all types of adenocarcinomas. After controlling for age and extent of disease at diagnosis, the overall survival rate for patients diagnosed between 1983 and 1997 (n = 1061) was significantly worse for those with signet ring cell carcinoma than for those with any other tumor type (P < 0.01). In addition, overall survival rates were better for patients with malignant carcinoid (P = 0.01).

Conclusions: Demographic characteristics of patients with cancer of the appendix vary by histology. Except for signet ring cell carcinoma and malignant carcinoid, the extent of disease at time of diagnosis is a more important predictor of survival than histology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / epidemiology
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Appendiceal Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Appendiceal Neoplasms / mortality
  • Carcinoid Tumor / epidemiology
  • Carcinoma, Signet Ring Cell / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Time Factors
  • United States / epidemiology