What Is Adenocarcinoma?

There are several different types of cancers based on tumor location in the body. Cancers are further divided into even smaller groups, called subtypes. These subtypes are defined based on cell characteristics within the organ that tumors are growing in.

Adenocarcinoma is a subtype of some cancers. The disease is adenocarcinoma type if tumors develop in the mucus-secreting glands in the primary organ, muscle, or tissue affected. Lung adenocarcinoma is the most common, accounting for about 30 percent of all lung cancers.

Adenocarcinomas and Asbestos

Lung cancer adenocarcinoma type has multiple causes, including prolonged exposure to the mineral asbestos. This mineral was used for its flame-resistant properties and was a primary material in most construction projects since the early 1900s.

It wasn’t until the late 1970s that the use of asbestos was outlawed. Asbestos can cause diseases like lung cancer and mesothelioma, among others, if its toxic fibers are inhaled or swallowed by those nearby.

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Occupations at Risk of Exposure to Asbestos

Some jobs carry a greater risk of exposure than others. The U.S. military was also a large user of asbestos in the construction of military vehicles, barracks, supplies, and other products. Putting veterans, service members, and military personnel at an elevated risk.

Other occupations at risk for contact with asbestos include:

There are several other occupations at risk for asbestos exposure. Any job that involves the handling, production, or breaking down of materials that contain asbestos.

Adenocarcinoma Types

Adenocarcinomas are the most prevalent subtype of multiple cancers because there are mucus-producing glands in several organs.

This disease can also affect:

  • Stomach
  • Esophagus
  • Pancreas
  • Colon

While tumors begin in the glands, they can quickly spread to different tissues and regions of the body. On some occasions, the brain can be affected if tumors advance from another area.

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Symptoms of this disease vary by where tumors have formed in the body. Here are some of the symptoms of adenocarcinoma by location:


  • Bloody mucus
  • Excessive coughing
  • Hoarse voice
  • Wheezing


  • Always feeling full after small amounts of food
  • Blood in stool
  • Heartburn
  • Low appetite
  • Recurring stomach pain
  • Underlying abdominal pain in the naval area


  • Chest aches
  • Coughing
  • Dysphagia (issues swallowing)
  • Sore throat


  • Back discomfort
  • Constant feeling full or bloated
  • Heartburn
  • Nausea and vomiting


  • Cramps and abdominal discomfort
  • Difference in bowel movements (constipation, diarrhea)
  • Gas and bloating or always feeling of full
  • Thin, narrow stool

Other symptoms that most of these diseases have in common are unexplained weight loss and fatigue. Visit your healthcare provider for an examination and diagnosis if these symptoms appear and persist.

This is an icon of a doctor who diagnoses lung cancer.
Diagnosing the Disease

There are a few ways your doctor can choose to administer a screening in order to examine and diagnose your illness. Some of the most common methods involve:

Imaging Tests

These testing methods can consist of an X-ray, MRI, or CT-scan. This process involves using a machine to try and look inside the body and screen for abnormal masses. These tests are more of a preliminary step when there is suspected illness.

The results of imaging tests will tell doctors how to proceed in further testing and diagnosis.

Lab Review

Surgeons can remove fluid or mucus buildup from affected areas to send into a lab for review. These types of tests may lead a doctor to move on to more invasive testing, like biopsies.


A reliable way doctors use to diagnose most types of cancer. The biopsy process involves a surgeon making a small incision in the suspected area and removing a small sample of tissue to be tested by a pathologist in a lab for an official diagnosis.

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Treatment and Therapy

After the medical diagnosis determines the type and stage of disease (how far it has progressed), the doctor will develop a coinciding treatment plan. If the stage is early enough, and tumors have not spread too far into the body, medical professionals can use one or multiple of the following treatments to remove tumors:

Sometimes if tumors have advanced too far, treatments may be used for palliative care or as pain and symptom management instead of curative. A patient can also change their diet and exercise routine to try and help improve their medical prognosis. Ask your doctor for specifics.

Lung Adenocarcinoma VS Mesothelioma

It’s possible that doctors can mistake lung adenocarcinoma and mesothelioma for each other. Symptoms tend to be similar, and tumors are close by. However, a primary difference in mesothelioma tumors is that they form in the tissue lining of the lungs, while the mucus-producing glands are in two specific areas inside the lung tissue.

If you believe you’ve been misdiagnosed by a doctor, you’re entitled to a second opinion from a different medical professional.

Legal Options

Since asbestos was determined to be a carcinogen (a cancer-causing substance) by authorities, its usage, production, and removal became heavily regulated. This was to protect workers from negligent exposure while at work.

These regulations primarily focus on how asbestos is handled and removed from structures and materials and hold the owners of the asbestos companies responsible for proper removal of the toxin.

If you receive an adenocarcinoma of the lung (or other asbestos-related diseases) diagnosis and believe it’s due to exposure in the workplace, you could file a claim against the companies responsible and receive financial compensation.