PEOPLE who had appendicitis but didn’t have the organ removed are at higher risk of cancer, a study has found.

Doctors will try to treat someone with appendicitis with antibiotics, before resorting to surgery.

People who had appendicitis when they were younger might be at risk of cancer


People who had appendicitis when they were younger might be at risk of cancerCredit: Getty

Often people will improve and not need any procedures, but a new study has found they could then be at risk of appendix cancer.

A new analysis of cases in the National Cancer Database (NCDB) found there is an increased risk younger patients (less than 50 years old).

The study, published in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons, suggests it could be due to a rise in carcinoids.

These are slow-growing types of neuroendocrine tumours, which affect cells that release hormones into the bloodstream.

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Study author Michelle Salazar, MD, MHS, general surgery resident, Yale School of Medicine/Yale New Haven Hospital, said: “There is no good answer as to why there is an increase in carcinoids.

“It could be due to environmental reasons, or it could be due to better diagnostics technology.

“I would counsel patients based on age. If you’re older, you are at less risk for appendiceal cancer and greater risk for complications from surgery.

“Younger, healthy patients are more likely to be able to tolerate an operation and may want to rule out cancer by undergoing the operation.

Appendix cancer symptoms:

  • Appendicitis (inflammation or infection of the appendix)
  • Bloating
  • Abdominal pain
  • Pelvic pain
  • Fluid buildup in the abdomen (ascites)
  • Changes in bowel function
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Increase in waist size

“The characteristics of appendicitis should be considered in the decision.” 

The study underscores the fact that cancer of the appendix is a “small but real risk” and that patients who had acute appendicitis should be regularly checked up on.

Appendicitis typically starts with a pain in the middle of your tummy (abdomen) that may come and go.

Within hours, the pain travels to your lower right-hand side, where the appendix is usually located, and becomes constant and severe.

Pressing on this area, coughing or walking may make the pain worse.

If you have appendicitis, you may also have other symptoms, including:

  • feeling sick (nausea)
  • being sick
  • loss of appetite
  • constipation or diarrhoea
  • a high temperature and a flushed face

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