Medical News Today: How to identify and treat scaling skin: A picture guide

Scaling skin is dry, cracked, or flaky skin. Also known as desquamation, scaling skin happens when the outer layer of the skin, called the epidermis, begins to flake off.

Scaling skin may arise when an injury or a medical condition damages the outer layer of skin. Some conditions interfere with the structure and moisture content of the skin or cause the body to produce extra skin, which can lead to dry or flaky skin.

Scaling skin is a symptom of many medical conditions, including psoriasis, contact dermatitis, eczema, and fungal skin infections. Some causes can lead to health complications if left untreated. Commonly affected areas include the face, legs, and hands.

Continue reading to find out what causes scaling skin, how to identify the condition with our picture guide, treatment options, and when to see a doctor.

Pictures of scaling skin

Causes of scaling skin

Scaling skin is a symptom of many different skin conditions, including:

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Contact dermatitis

Contact dermatitis is a form of eczema that develops after someone has come into contact with an allergen, irritant, or toxic substance.

People can develop contact dermatitis anywhere on the body, but it typically appears on exposed body parts, such as:

  • hands
  • face
  • arms
  • legs
  • neck
  • feet

Possible allergens or irritants that can cause contact dermatitis include:

  • poison ivy
  • wool
  • soap
  • cosmetics
  • chlorine
  • cigarette smoke
  • latex

Symptoms of contact dermatitis include:

  • dry, flaky, or scaly patches of skin
  • redness and swelling of the skin
  • blisters that ooze or weep
  • burning or itching sensation of the affected area
  • hives
  • stiff or tight feeling skin


Psoriasis is a common autoimmune disorder that causes patches of thick, scaly skin to develop. Psoriasis usually affects the following body parts:

  • elbows
  • knees
  • scalp
  • palms
  • soles of feet
  • lower back

Symptoms of psoriasis include:

  • thick, scaly patches of skin
  • red or silvery patches of skin
  • itching

People with psoriatic arthritis, a condition related to psoriasis, often experience swelling, stiffness, or pain in the joints.


Woman sitting in waiting room itching arm.
Eczema can cause itchy, dry patches of skin.

Eczema is a common skin condition that affects 30 percent of people in the United States. It is most common in children and adolescents.

Some types of eczema that cause scaling skin include:

Atopic dermatitis

  • Location: elbows, knees, cheeks, neck, legs, and arms
  • Symptoms: dry, flaky patches of skin that can ooze a clear fluid

Dyshidrotic eczema

  • Location: fingers, toes, palms, and soles of the feet
  • Symptoms: small blisters that can turn into skin cracks or cause the skin to thicken

Seborrheic dermatitis

  • Location: areas where the skin is oily, such as the scalp, ears, face, and armpits
  • Symptoms: yellowish or white crusty rash

Varicose eczema

  • Location: lower legs
  • Symptoms: dry, scaly skin and hot, leaking blisters

Asteatotic eczema

  • Location: lower legs
  • Symptoms: dry, scaly skin with red cracks


Ichthyosis is a family of rare skin disorders characterized by thick, scaling patches of skin.

Ichthyosis can appear on many parts of the body, including:

  • legs
  • hands
  • arms
  • torso
  • elbows
  • scalp

Symptoms of ichthyosis include:

  • extremely dry skin
  • thick, scaly skin
  • flaky skin
  • cracks in the skin

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Actinic keratosis

Actinic keratosis, also known as solar keratosis, is a thick, crusty bump that forms on the skin. People can develop actinic keratosis after exposure to ultraviolet light from the sun or artificial tanning.

People should keep an eye on actinic keratoses as they can be the first sign of skin cancer. According to the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology, active lesions that are redder and more tender than others may develop into a skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma.

Actinic keratoses appear on areas of the body that get a lot of sun exposure, such as:

  • face
  • ears
  • neck
  • hands
  • scalp
  • arms

Symptoms of actinic keratosis include:

  • light, dark, pink, or red colored bumps
  • horn-like scale or crust on the bump
  • bumps are tender or itchy

Lichen planus

Lichen planus is an inflammatory skin condition in which many small bumps develop on various parts of the body.

Lichen planus can appear anywhere on the body, but it usually develops on the

  • mouth
  • nails
  • scalp
  • wrists
  • ankles
  • lower back
  • legs

Symptoms of lichen planus depend on where it appears on the body. Some symptoms include

  • shiny, red or white bumps
  • thick patches of scaly skin
  • itching or pain of the affected area
  • blisters


Ringworm, or tinea, is a fungal infection that affects the top layer of the skin. Ringworm causes red, scaly rashes that can spread to other parts of the body.

Ringworm appears on the following body parts:

  • feet
  • groin
  • nail bed
  • beard area
  • body
  • face
  • neck

Symptoms of ringworm include:

  • small patches of red, scaly skin
  • a ring-shaped rash
  • margining or raised rings
  • itchiness under the rash
  • pus-filled bumps

Treatments for scaling skin

Ointment tube.
Ointments and creams may help treat the cause of scaling skin.

Treatments depend on the severity of the symptoms and the cause of scaling.

People can treat mild forms of scaling skin with ointments or creams that contain urea, petrolatum, or lactic acid.

If using creams and ointment regularly does not reduce the scaling, people can talk to their doctor about the best treatment options.

Doctors may recommend prescription-strength ointments to reduce swelling and itching, such as hydrocortisone. For more severe cases, healthcare providers may recommend oral steroids, antibiotics, or antihistamines.

People can find creams and ointments in drugstores and online stores:

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Scaling leaves the skin broken and vulnerable to bacterial, viral, and fungal infections, which can lead to other health complications if left untreated.

Some of the medical conditions mentioned above may lead to other health complications. For example, people with psoriasis may develop psoriatic arthritis, a condition characterized by pain and inflammation of the joints.

Actinic keratosis requires extra attention as some bumps may be precancerous.

When to see a doctor

Scaling skin is not a medical emergency. However, people should seek medical attention if they experience any of the following:

  • scaling skin that does not improve even after regular skin care
  • the rash or area of affected skin begins spreading
  • an allergic reaction, which includes hives, fever, or difficulty breathing


Scaling skin is a symptom of many different medical conditions, such as psoriasis, contact dermatitis, eczema, and fungal skin infections. Scaling skin is not a medical emergency.

People who experience persistent scaling may want to contact their healthcare provider to discuss treatment options.

Treatment depends on the severity of the symptoms and the cause of the scaling. People can treat mild forms of scaling with thick ointments or creams. More severe forms of scaling may require medical attention. Doctors may prescribe antifungals to treat ringworm or antihistamines to treat allergic reactions.

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Medical News Today: Diabetes: Are you over-monitoring your blood sugar?

Many people living with type 2 diabetes monitor their blood sugar levels on a daily basis, but does that really make a difference to health? A new study suggests that they may be over-monitoring.
person taking blood glucose test
Many people with type 2 diabetes are testing their blood sugar levels too often, new research finds.

According to a recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report, about 30.3 million people in the United States live with diabetes, which equates to almost one in 10 individuals.

The most commonly diagnosed form of diabetes is type 2 diabetes, which, more often than not, does not require insulin injections.

Instead, people with type 2 diabetes can manage their condition by taking the appropriate medication.

A drug that doctors often prescribe for this form of diabetes is metformin, which helps people keep their blood sugar levels under control.

As keeping blood sugar in check is so important in diabetes, endocrinologists advise people with this condition to perform regular, simple blood tests that they can do at home with the appropriate devices.

However, emerging evidence suggests that many people living with type 2 diabetes may be erring too much on the side of caution and taking these tests too often, without deriving any real benefits from doing so.

A new study by researchers from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor suggests that a significant percentage of people with type 2 diabetes test their blood sugar levels at least twice a day.

These findings, which appear in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, indicate that U.S. citizens or, in some cases, their insurance plans may pay excessive amounts of money for the supplies they require for unnecessary testing.

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Too many prescriptions for test strips

Dr. Kevin Platt, who is in the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Michigan, led a team who looked at the insurance data of 370,740 people with type 2 diabetes. The researchers specifically assessed how these individuals had been filling test-strip prescriptions for blood sugar tests following the updated guidelines that the Endocrine Society and Society of General Internal Medicine issued in 2013.

These guidelines recommended that people with type 2 diabetes reduced the frequency of at-home blood sugar level tests.

In their analysis, the researchers only looked at people with diabetes who did not require insulin or take medication that increases hypoglycemia (low sugar levels) risk. However, they did include people who took no medicine for the regulation of blood sugar, as well as those who took medicine that did not require them to check their blood sugar levels frequently.

The researchers found that “86, 747 (23.4 percent) of [the people in the study cohort] filled three or more claims for test strips during the course of the year.” They also noted that “more than half of these individuals,” equivalent to 51,820 people or 14 percent of the study population, were “potentially using the supplies inappropriately.”

Of these people, “32,773 individuals were taking agents not considered to be a risk for causing hypoglycemia (e.g., metformin hydrochloride) and 19,047 had no claims for any antidiabetic medications,” the authors write.

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‘Reducing the use of unnecessary care’

Dr. Platt and team explain that once a person taking blood sugar medication has determined the dosage that works best for them, they no longer have to test their sugar levels on a daily basis.

However, the study findings indicate that even the people who did not need to take daily blood tests were still using an average of two test strips per day.

The researchers believe that people may keep on taking the tests to allow them to keep a log of their blood sugar levels and feel more in control of their condition.

However, they are spending a lot of money in doing so, whether it be on insurance plans or out of their own pocket in the absence of insurance.

“The median claims cost for test strips was $325.54 […] per person per year” in the case of people with an insurance plan, the researchers write, and the cost is likely to be even greater for those without insurance.

“Healthcare costs and access to care are an important issue for many Americans,” says Dr. A. Mark Fendrick, the study’s senior author.

The savings that result from reducing the use of unnecessary care — such as needless home blood sugar testing — can create ‘headroom’ to spend more on those clinical services that we need to buy more often.”

Dr. A. Mark Fendrick

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Medical News Today: Statins: Risk of side effects is low, say experts

For most people who take statins to lower cholesterol, the risk of side effects is low compared to the benefits, according to a recent scientific statement.
pills and stethoscope against a pink and blue background
New research suggests that the benefits of statins outweigh the risks.

The American Heart Association (AHA) statement applies to those who — according to current guidelines — are at risk of heart attack and ischemic strokes, which are strokes arising from blood clots.

Statins are drugs that reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol by blocking an enzyme in the liver.

Around a quarter of adults over the age of 40 years old in the United States use statins to reduce their risk of heart attack, ischemic stroke, and other conditions that can develop when plaque builds up in arteries.

However, up to 1 in 10 of individuals taking statins stop using them because they assume that the drug is responsible for symptoms that they experience, although that may not be the case.

“Stopping a statin,” says Dr. Mark Creager, who is director of the Heart and Vascular Center at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, NH, and former president of the AHA, “can significantly increase the risk of a heart attack or stroke caused by a blocked artery.”

The journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology carries a full report on the research that went into the statement.

Within guidelines, ‘benefits outweigh risks’

The statement’s authors say that trials have proved that statins have had a major effect on reducing heart attacks, strokes, other cardiovascular diseases, and associated deaths.

Further to this, they reviewed a large number of studies and clinical trials that have evaluated the safety and potential adverse effects of statins.

“Over 30 years of clinical investigation,” the authors write, “have shown that statins exhibit few serious adverse effects.”

They point out that, apart from a few exceptions, it is possible to reverse the adverse effects of statin use. This should be compared, they argue, with the fact that heart attacks and stroke damage the heart or brain permanently, and they can kill.

They list the exceptions as “hemorrhagic stroke and the possible exception of newly diagnosed diabetes mellitus and some cases of autoimmune necrotizing myositis.”

“Thus,” they conclude, “in the patient population in whom statins are recommended by current guidelines, the benefit of reducing cardiovascular risk with statin therapy far outweighs any safety concerns.”

According to the AHA, the current guidelines recommend the use of statins for the following groups:

    • Those who have experienced heart attack, stroke, transient ischemic attacks, or who have a history of cardiovascular conditions such as angina and peripheral artery disease.
    • Adults aged 40–75 years old whose LDL cholesterol is in the 70–189 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl) range and whose risk of having a heart attack or stroke in the next 10 years is 7.5 percent or above.
    • Adults aged 40–75 years of age who have diabetes and whose LDL cholesterol is in the range 70–89 mg/dl.
    • Anyone aged 21 years and older with a very high LDL cholesterol level of 190 mg/dl and above.

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    ‘Muscle aches and pains’

    People using statins who report side effects most often mention “muscle aches and pains.”

    However, the research that the statement’s authors reviewed reveals that fewer than 1 percent of people who use statins “develop muscle symptoms that are likely caused by statin drugs.”

    Uncertainty about the causes of any aches and pains, coupled with the fact that they are taking statins, may prompt people to make a link where none exists.

    The AHA say that if individuals stop taking their statins for this reason, they may be doing more harm than good by raising their risk of a cardiovascular event.

    They urge healthcare providers to “pay close attention to their patients’ concerns and help them assess likely causes.” They could, for instance, check for blood markers of muscle damage. If they are normal, this could reassure their patients.

    Another option is to check vitamin D levels, as insufficiency amounts can also cause muscle aches and pains.

    Risk of diabetes and hemorrhagic stroke

    There is a slight chance that statins might raise the risk of diabetes, especially in those at higher risk. These include individuals with obesity or whose lifestyle is largely sedentary.

    The statement suggests that the absolute risk of being diagnosed with diabetes as a result of using statins is around 0.2 percent per year.

    For those who already have diabetes, there could be a slight increase in the amount of glucose in the blood, as their HbA1c measure may reflect.

    However, the increase is very small and should not prevent the use of statins, note the AHA.

    The research that the statement reviewed did not find that statins increase the risk of a first hemorrhagic stroke, which is a type of stroke that occurs when a blood vessel ruptures.

    People with a history of hemorrhagic stroke, on the other hand, may have a slightly higher risk of a further one if they use statins. However, this risk is very small and the overall benefits of statin use in reducing strokes and “other vascular events” outweighs it.

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    Risk of other side effects

    The statement’s authors also looked at evidence that statin use might increase the risk of other conditions. These included damage to peripheral nerves, other neurological effects, damage to the liver, cataracts, and ruptures to a tendon.

    They found, however, “little evidence” to support the idea that using statins raised the risk of these conditions.

    In rare instances, there could be a side effect called rhabdomyolysis, which is a type of muscle injury that can lead to acute kidney failure. A sign of this can be passing dark urine, so if this happens people should stop taking their statins and see their doctor, say the AHA.

    From the reviewed evidence, the statement suggests that rhabdomyolysis is a side effect in less than 0.1 percent of people taking statins.

    In most cases, you should not stop taking your statin medication if you think you are having side effects from the drug — instead, talk to your healthcare provider about your concerns.”

    Dr. Mark Creager

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Medical News Today: Does problem-solving stave off mental decline?

A widely held belief has it that the more we use our brains, the less likely it is that we will experience mental decline as we age, but to what extent is this notion true?
older woman and young girl solving puzzles
A new study tests whether flexing your brain with problem-solving tasks can help prevent age-related mental decline.

As we get older, our bodies and minds begin to lose their suppleness slowly. This is a normal effect of aging, though sometimes, the decline can be steeper and related to neurodegenerative conditions.

Existing research has suggested that people can prevent age-related mental decline if they take certain actions, one of the most important being training one’s brain by challenging it through puzzles and similar problem-solving activities.

How true is this idea? In a new, longitudinal study, researchers from the University of Aberdeen and the National Health Service (NHS) Grampian in Aberdeen — both in the United Kingdom — in collaboration with colleagues from the National University of Ireland in Galway address this question.

The research team was led by Dr. Roger Staff, who is an honorary lecturer at the University of Aberdeen, and head of medical physics at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.

“Activity engagement is so often argued to be an important dimension of successful aging (and more specifically, the preservation of intellectual function in old age) that the ‘use it or lose it’ conjecture already appears to be an established fact of cognitive aging,” the research team writes in the study paper, which appears in The BMJ.

“We aimed to re-examine this claim by analyzing the effects of activity engagement on cognitive test performance and the trajectory of that performance in late adulthood,” the investigators explain.

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Impact or no impact?

The researchers analyzed the data of 498 participants who were all born in 1936 and had taken an intelligence test — The Moray House Test — when they were 11 years old, as part of the Scottish Mental Survey of 1947. The team collected this information through the archives of the Scottish Council for Research in Education, which holds records of the Scottish Mental Survey.

At the beginning of the current study, the participants were around 64 years old and had provided information about their educational history and mental abilities at baseline.

They all agreed to undertake additional tests, assessing memory and mental processing speeds, as well as other measurements of cognitive function, on up to five different occasions over the following 15 years.

These included digit symbol substitution tests, auditory-verbal learning tests, and assessments measuring the participants’ interest in reading and problem solving, their critical thinking, and intellectual curiosity.

After accounting for potential modifying factors, the investigators found that problem-solving activities did not impact the rate of age-related mental decline. However, regularly engaging in such activities did appear to improve a person’s cognitive skills throughout their life.

This also meant that people who liked to undertake problem-solving tasks — such as doing crosswords, solving puzzles or sudoku problems — did have better mental abilities in late life.

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‘A higher starting point’ for decline

According to Dr. Staff and team, the study’s findings suggest that, while it may not halt age-related cognitive decline altogether, problem-solving can keep the brain in better shape earlier in life, so that mental decline may not be so noticeable later on. The researchers write:

These results indicate that engagement in problem-solving does not protect an individual from decline, but imparts a higher starting point from which decline is observed and offsets the point at which impairment becomes significant.”

At the same time, however, the investigators note that this was an observational study, so we must be cautious when it comes to inferring a cause and effect relationship. Factors other than regular problem-solving, such as an individual’s personality, may contribute to improving their cognitive skills during their life.

“Personality could govern how much effort older people put into such activities and why,” the researchers write, adding that, “How personality and mental effort are related and how their combined influence affects cognitive performance is unclear.”

Future studies, the researchers say, should investigate these unanswered questions and aim to replicate the current findings. Still, they stress how important it is for people to stay curious and keep on training their brains through challenging activities.

“[For] those of you struggling to come up with good ideas for Christmas presents for the ‘developing’ adults in your life — although a shiny new chess board, 1,000-page Sudoku puzzle book, or all-inclusive tickets to the museum of modern art’s quiz night might not influence trajectories of cognitive decline, have no fear,” the researchers write at the end of their paper.

“If family and friends give you a disappointed look on opening their Christmas present, remind them that investment in intellectual activities throughout life could provide them with a higher cognitive point from which to decline,” they encourage.

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Medical News Today: What is appendix cancer?

Appendix cancer is a rare type of cancer that grows in the appendix. There are several different types of appendix cancer, and a person often experiences no symptoms in the early stages.

The appendix is a tubular, finger-like sac around 4 inches in length that connects to the first part of the colon. Scientists do not fully understand the exact purpose of this organ. People can live normal and healthy lives without their appendix.

Appendix cancer, also known as appendiceal cancer, is extremely rare. Experts estimate that this type of cancer affects around 2 to 9 people per 1 million. Some studies suggest that appendix cancer may be on the rise, however.

A recent retrospective study estimated that it increased from around 6 people per 1 million in 2000 to as many as 10 people per 1 million in 2009.

In this article, we discuss the types, symptoms, causes, and risk factors of appendix cancer. We also cover diagnosis, treatment, and survival rates for this disease.


Man with appendix pain possibly caused by appendix cancer
Appendicitis may be the first sign of appendix cancer.

Appendix cancer includes several types of tumor cells that may affect various parts of the appendix.

Some appendix tumors are benign, meaning they do not invade and spread. Other tumors are malignant, and thus cancerous, which means they invade and can spread to or from other organs.

An appendix tumor may be one of the following types:

  • Neuroendocrine tumor. Also known as a carcinoid tumor, this type usually starts in the tip of the appendix and accounts for more than half of appendiceal malignancies.
  • Mucinous cystadenoma. This is a benign tumor that starts in the mucoceles, which are mucus-filled areas of edema or sacs in the appendix wall. A mucinous cystadenoma is benign and does not spread to other organs when it is in an intact appendix. It is also known as a low-grade mucinous neoplasm.
  • Mucinous cystadenocarcinoma. This type of tumor also starts in the mucoceles, but it is malignant and can spread elsewhere. It accounts for about 20 percent of all cases of appendix cancer.
  • Colonic-type adenocarcinoma. About 10 percent of all appendix tumors are adenocarcinomas, and they usually start at the base of the appendix when originating in this organ. They can spread to other organs and areas of the body.
  • Goblet cell carcinoma. Also known as an adenoneuroendocrine tumor, this type of tumor has similar characteristics to both a neuroendocrine tumor and an adenocarcinoma. A goblet cell carcinoma may spread to other organs and tends to be more aggressive than a neuroendocrine tumor.
  • Signet-ring cell adenocarcinoma. A rare and difficult-to-treat malignant tumor, a signet-ring cell adenocarcinoma is faster growing and more difficult to remove than other adenocarcinomas.
  • Paraganglioma. This type of tumor is usually benign. However, medical literature has reported one rare case of a malignant paraganglioma in the appendix.


Appendix cancer often causes no symptoms in the early stages. Doctors often only first diagnose people with this condition in the later stages when it begins to cause symptoms or spreads to other organs. Doctors may also find it when evaluating or treating a patient for a different condition.

The signs and symptoms of appendix cancer often depend on the effects of the tumor:

Pseudomyxoma peritonei

Some types of appendix tumors can cause pseudomyxoma peritonei or PMP, which occurs when the appendix ruptures and the tumor cells leak into the abdominal cavity. The tumor cells secrete a protein gel called mucin that can build up in the abdominal cavity and continue to spread.

PMP may involve cancer cells that leak into the abdominal cavity. Without treatment, its buildup can lead to problems with the digestive system and intestinal blockages. Mucinous cystadenomas and mucinous cystadenocarcinomas of the appendix may cause PMP.

PMP symptoms include:

  • abdominal pain that may come and go
  • swollen or enlarged abdomen
  • loss of appetite
  • feeling full after eating only small amounts of food
  • nausea or vomiting
  • constipation or diarrhea
  • inguinal hernia, containing mucus and more common in males


Appendicitis, which is inflammation of the appendix, may be the first sign of appendix cancer. This is mostly because some appendix tumors can block the appendix, leading to the bacteria that are normally in the intestines becoming trapped and overgrowing inside the appendix.

The most common treatment for appendicitis is emergency surgery to remove the appendix. Once the surgeon removes the appendix, a biopsy of the tissue may reveal that the person has appendix cancer.

Appendicitis symptoms typically include severe pain in the abdomen that:

  • occurs between the bellybutton and lower right abdomen
  • gets worse with movement or deep breaths
  • comes on suddenly and gets worse quickly

Appendicitis may also cause:

  • abdominal swelling
  • nausea or vomiting
  • constipation or diarrhea

Not all types of appendix cancer will cause appendicitis. For instance, the majority of neuroendocrine tumors form in the appendix tip, so they are unlikely to cause a blockage that could lead to appendicitis.

It is also important to note that many people who get appendicitis do not have appendix cancer. Other factors, such as trauma to the abdomen and inflammatory bowel disease can cause appendicitis. Many cases of appendicitis have no known cause.

Other signs of appendix cancer

In some cases, people with appendix cancer may discover a hard mass in the abdomen or pelvic area. They may also have abdominal pain or swelling. In females, a mass from appendix cancer may be mistaken for ovarian cancer.

If the appendix cancer is malignant, the cancer cells may grow on the surface of other abdominal organs and the lining of the abdominal cavity. This progression is known as peritoneal carcinomatosis. If left untreated, a person may lose function of their intestines or have an intestinal blockage.

Malignant appendix cancer most commonly grows on the surface of the:

  • liver
  • spleen
  • ovaries
  • uterus
  • lining of the abdominal cavity or peritoneum

Usually, cancers of the appendix do not spread to organs outside of the abdominal cavity with the exception of signet-ring cell adenocarcinomas.

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Causes and risk factors

Experts do not yet know exactly what causes appendix cancer. They have not discovered any links between appendix cancer and genetic or environmental causes.

Doctors mostly believe that appendix cancer affects males and females equally. Because it is rare in children, being an adult is the only known risk factor. Most people are between 40 and 59 years of age when a doctor diagnoses them with appendix cancer.


Doctors diagnose many appendix cancers after a person has had appendicitis surgery or when the tumor spreads to other organs, causing symptoms.

It is difficult for doctors to specifically identify appendix cancer on imaging tests such as ultrasound, MRI, or CT scans. Likewise, blood tests are not a reliable indicator of appendix cancer.

Often, a doctor can diagnose a person with appendix cancer after obtaining a biopsy of the tumor.


doctor speaking to patient
Treating appendix cancer may include surgery and chemotherapy.

A person’s healthcare team will determine the best treatment for appendix cancer based on several factors, including:

  • the type of tumor
  • if and where cancer has spread
  • any other health issues affecting the person

If cancer has not spread beyond the appendix, a person may only need surgery. If it has spread to other organs, the surgeon may be able to remove the affected organs to eliminate all cancer. This may include part of the intestines, ovaries, or peritoneum.

The American Association of Endocrine Surgeons state that most people benefit from surgery that removes the appendix and the right half of the colon, especially if the tumor is larger than 2 centimeters (cm). This procedure is known as a right hemicolectomy.

Some people may also undergo chemotherapy after surgery to help eliminate the cancer.

A procedure known as heated intraperitoneal chemotherapy, also called HIPEC, may be effective against appendix cancer that has spread into the abdominal cavity.

With HIPEC, the surgeon fills the abdomen with a heated chemotherapy solution and allows it to work for around 1.5 hours. This technique may eliminate cancer cells that the doctors cannot see. The surgeon will perform HIPEC after removing the appendix and any visible tumor cells.

HIPEC is new and may have a long recovery time, ranging from 8 weeks to several months. The Appendix Cancer and Pseudomyxoma Peritonei Research Foundation say people with appendix cancer and PMP should find surgeons with experience in appendix cancer surgery and HIPEC for the best outcome.

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Survival rates

The survival rate for appendix cancer varies depending on the type of tumor, whether it has spread, and where it is.

Doctors use 5-year survival rates to provide a predictive indication of how many people will live for at least 5 years after diagnosis of their cancer. However, it is vital to note these figures are only estimates and everyone’s outlook will be different.

According to the American Society for Clinical Oncology, the 5-year survival rate for neuroendocrine tumors of the appendix is:

  • Nearly 100 percent if the tumor is smaller than 3 cm and has not spread.
  • Around 78 percent if the tumor is smaller than 3 cm and has spread to regional lymph nodes.
  • Around 78 percent if the tumor is larger than 3 cm, regardless of whether it has spread to other parts of the body.
  • Approximately 32 percent if the cancer has spread to other parts of the body.

The National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences states that for goblet cell carcinoma, generally, 76 percent of people will live for 5 years or longer following diagnosis.

Specific statistics are not available for other types of appendix cancer.


Appendix cancer is extremely rare, and it causes no symptoms in many people in the early stages. Doctors often only diagnose appendix cancer in the later stages when it starts spreading to other organs. Otherwise, it may be diagnosed incidentally while treating appendicitis or evaluating a different abdominal condition.

Because appendix cancer is so rare, many facts about it remain a mystery. People who have this type of cancer may benefit from online support groups where they can connect with others who are going through some of the same challenges and treatments.

Appendix cancer is treatable, and many people have good outcomes with the help of professional cancer care. A doctor can advise a person about their treatment options and health outlook.

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Medical News Today: What to know about fibroadenomas of the breast

A fibroadenoma is a type of lump that can develop in the breast and typically appears in females. Fibroadenomas are very common, but they are benign, which means that they are noncancerous.

Other than the lump itself, a person with a fibroadenoma is unlikely to experience any symptoms.

In this article, we look at the causes of fibroadenomas and how doctors diagnose and treat them.

What is a fibroadenoma?

fibroadenoma breast
A fibroadenoma develops in the breast and is common in women.

A fibroadenoma is a benign tumor that can develop in the breast. Doctors do not know why some people develop them and others do not. They are common in women but rare in men.

The tumors consist of glandular and connective tissue, and they can vary in size. Some are so small that a person cannot feel them, while others are easy to locate during a self-examination.

A person may have one fibroadenoma or many. Fibroadenomas may maintain their size or grow or shrink over time.

If a fibroadenoma is large enough to touch, it will usually feel like a round, relatively firm lump that it is possible to move under the skin.

Doctors classify fibroadenomas as either simple or complex. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), simple fibroadenomas look the same all over when a doctor examines them under a microscope. Complex fibroadenomas are usually larger and have different features.

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A fibroadenoma is not usually painful or tender to the touch. Most people do not experience any symptoms other than the lump.

However, according to Breast Cancer Care (BCC), fibroadenomas may feel tender before a person’s period. They may also get bigger during pregnancy, breastfeeding, or while taking hormone replacement therapy.

However, they will usually return to their previous size after these hormonal fluctuations.


According to the ACS, doctors can detect a fibroadenoma through an initial physical examination if it is large enough. If the doctor suspects a fibroadenoma, they will confirm it using an imaging test, such as a mammogram, an ultrasound, or both.

To be sure that the lump is a fibroadenoma, the doctor may recommend a biopsy. The individual will receive a local anesthetic, after which the doctor will remove a small sample of the lump to send to a laboratory for testing.

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fibroadenoma breast<!--mce:protected %0A-->scan
A doctor may recommend surgical removal if the fibroadenoma has any abnormalities.

If a fibroadenoma has any abnormalities, a doctor may recommend surgical removal.

This procedure can take place under either a local or general anesthetic.

The choice will depend on the features of the fibroadenoma and its location in the breast.

However, according to 2015 research, surgery is rarely necessary if the cells of the fibroadenoma appear normal. Surgery could leave scars on the breast, which may interfere with future imaging tests.

A fibroadenoma may grow or shrink. If this occurs, a doctor may suggest regular checkups to monitor these changes.


Fibroadenomas do not usually cause any complications. It is possible that a person may develop breast cancer out of a fibroadenoma, but this is highly unlikely.

According to research, only around 0.002 to 0.125 percent of fibroadenomas become cancerous.


In most cases, a fibroadenoma will stay the same or shrink, and it will not affect a person’s life.

However, it is essential that anyone who finds a lump in their breast seeks further medical advice. Identifying a fibroadenoma is straightforward, and treatment is not often necessary, but a diagnosis can give a person peace of mind.

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Medical News Today: What to know about stage 4 lymphoma

Stage 4 lymphoma occurs when cancer has spread to a distant part of the body outside of the lymphatic system, such as the spinal cord, lungs, or liver.

Lymphoma is cancer that originates in a type of white blood cell called lymphocytes. These cells travel through the lymphatic system, which is part of the body’s immune system. As with many cancers, there are four stages of lymphoma.

Stage 4 (IV) lymphoma is often treatable. A person’s prognosis depends on many factors, which include the type of lymphoma and the age of the individual.

In this article, we discuss the different types of lymphoma, including their symptoms, treatment, and survival rates.

Types of stage 4 lymphoma

Lymphoma is the term that people use to describe cancer that develops in the lymphatic system. There are two main types of lymphoma: Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Hodgkin lymphoma

woman having consultation with doctor
Stage 4 lymphoma occurs when cancer has spread beyond the lymphatic system.

The hallmark of Hodgkin lymphoma is the presence of Reed-Sternberg cells, which are mature B-type immune cells that have become cancerous.

An estimated 95 percent of Hodgkin lymphomas are classic Hodgkin lymphoma, of which there are four subtypes:

  • nodular sclerosis
  • mixed cellularity
  • lymphocyte-rich
  • lymphocyte-depleted

Around 5 percent of people with Hodgkin lymphoma have nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma.

Each different subtype of Hodgkin lymphoma has unique characteristics that will determine its treatment options.

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, in contrast to Hodgkin lymphoma, can come from B-type or T-type immune cells. It can also form in the lymph nodes and other organs, such as the stomach, intestines, and skin.

There are more than 90 types of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and it is possible to classify them in different ways.

For example, doctors may classify non-Hodgkin lymphoma as either T-cell or B-cell, according to the type of lymphocyte that it affects. Alternatively, they may describe the lymphoma as indolent or aggressive to reflect how fast it grows and spreads.

As with Hodgkin lymphoma, the type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma will determine the treatment.

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man laying in bed coughing
Having a persistent cough can be a symptom of stage 4 lymphoma.

Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma share many of the same symptoms. Some symptoms occur when the disease affects organs outside of the lymphatic system, such as the stomach or lungs.

Symptoms of stage 4 lymphoma can include:

  • enlarged lymph nodes under the skin
  • fatigue
  • chills
  • loss of appetite
  • itching
  • a persistent cough
  • shortness of breath
  • chest pain
  • abdominal bloating
  • early satiety
  • easy bruising or bleeding
  • frequent infections
  • nausea or vomiting

A group of symptoms called “B symptoms” contributes to the staging of both Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The presence of these symptoms occurs with more advanced disease, and they include:

  • unintentional loss of more than 10 percent of body weight within 6 months
  • fever that comes and goes without infection
  • drenching night sweats


The treatment for stage 4 lymphoma will be dependent on the type of lymphoma that a person has, their medical history, and which organs it affects.

Hodgkin lymphoma

Treatment for stage 4 Hodgkin lymphoma typically involves multiple cycles of chemotherapy drugs.

Chemotherapy combination drugs can include:

  • ABVD, which is the preferred regimen and comprises doxorubicin, bleomycin, vinblastine, and dacarbazine.
  • BEACOPP, which includes bleomycin, etoposide, doxorubicin, cyclophosphamide, vincristine, procarbazine, and prednisone. Doctors reserve this regimen for people with specific characteristics. It is effective but is a less common option due to the risks it carries of secondary leukemia and infertility.
  • Stanford V, which includes mechlorethamine, doxorubicin, vinblastine, vincristine, bleomycin, etoposide, and prednisone. Doctors do not commonly use this regimen.

A doctor may recommend radiation therapy for people who have large masses or evidence of residual disease on follow-up scans.

They might also suggest other methods of treatment, including a stem cell transplant or alternative drugs or drug combinations.

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma

A standard chemotherapy combination regimen that doctors often use to treat non-Hodgkin lymphoma is known as CHOP. This regimen includes the drugs cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, vincristine, and prednisone.

For aggressive types of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, the doctor might add an immunotherapy drug called rituximab to the CHOP regimen. This combination increases the effectiveness of the treatment and can potentially cure non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

An oncologist may also recommend other drugs that attack cancer cells in different ways or alternative treatments, such as radiation or stem cell transplant.

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The continual improvement of available treatment options means that doctors may sometimes be able to cure stage 4 lymphoma, depending on the type and a person’s risk factors. If a cure is not possible, treatment aims to manage a person’s symptoms and maintain their quality of life.

Survival rates

father and son chatting
Being male and more than 45 years of age may affect the prognosis for lymphoma.

Survival rates provide people with a better understanding of how likely it is that treatment will be successful for their type and stage of cancer.

Survival rates are estimates that vary depending on the stage of cancer. It is important to note that everyone is different, and many people can live much longer than these estimates suggest.

Overall, the 5-year survival rate for stage 4 Hodgkin lymphoma is 65 percent. The following risk factors affect a person’s prognosis and can make lymphoma more severe:

  • presence of B symptoms
  • being over the age of 45 years
  • being male
  • having specific white and red blood cell counts

The overall 5-year relative survival rate for all people with a non-Hodgkin lymphoma diagnosis is 71 percent.

Relative survival rates compare people with this disease to those without it, and they vary widely for different types and stages. Many factors can affect survival rates. A person should discuss their specific risk factors with their doctor.

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Lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphatic system. Stage 4 lymphoma means that cancer has spread to an organ external to the lymphatic system.

The survival rates vary widely depending on an individual’s risk factors and type of cancer. The survival rate of stage 4 lymphoma is lower than that of the other stages, but doctors can cure the condition in some cases.

People with a diagnosis of stage 4 lymphoma should discuss their treatment options and outlook with their doctor. Treating this disease requires a collaborative approach from doctors, nurses, social workers, mental health counselors, and social support.

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Medical News Today: Excess belly fat common in those with high heart risk

Excess waist fat is common in many people with a high risk of heart disease and stroke, according to a recent European study.

middle aged man doing squats
New research finds that two-thirds of people at high risk of developing cardiovascular disease have excess belly fat.

The study, called EUROASPIRE V, is a survey of cardiovascular disease prevention and diabetes. It forms part of a European Society of Cardiology research program.

The findings featured recently at the World Congress of Cardiology & Cardiovascular Health in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

They revealed that nearly two-thirds of individuals at high risk of cardiovascular disease had excess abdominal fat.

The results also showed that:

    • Only 47 percent of those taking drugs to reduce high blood pressure were achieving a target of under 140/90 millimeters of mercury, or under 140/85 for those who reported having diabetes.
    • Among individuals using lipid-lowering medication, only 43 percent had reached the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol target of under 2.5 millimoles per liter.
    • Many who were not in receipt of treatment for high blood pressure and high LDL cholesterol had those conditions.
    • Only 65 percent of individuals receiving treatment for type 2 diabetes had attained the target blood sugar of under 7.0 percent glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c).

    “The survey,” says Kornelia Kotseva, chair of the EUROASPIRE Steering Committee and a professor at Imperial College London in the United Kingdom, “shows that large proportions of individuals at high risk of cardiovascular disease have unhealthy lifestyle habits and uncontrolled blood pressure, lipids, and diabetes.”

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    Individuals with high heart risk

    The recent study focuses on “apparently healthy individuals in primary care at high risk of developing cardiovascular disease, including those with diabetes.”

    Altogether, 78 primary care practices from 16, mainly European, countries took part in the research, which took place during 2017–2018.

    They recruited individuals who were under 80 years of age and had no history of coronary artery disease or other conditions arising from atherosclerosis.

    However, assessments had shown that they were at high risk of developing cardiovascular disease due to one or more of the following: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes.

    The researchers used medical records to identify those eligible for the study and invited them for an interview and clinical exam.

    The interviewers asked questions about diet, exercise, smoking, and other lifestyle factors.

    The analysis included a total of 2,759 people. Of these:

      • 64 percent had central obesity, which is a measure of excess abdominal fat.
      • 37 percent were in the overweight category for body mass index (25.0–29.9 kilograms per square meter).
      • 18 percent were current smokers.
      • 36 percent were achieving the typical guideline physical activity level of at least 30 minutes on 5 days of the week.

      The researchers defined central obesity as having a waist size of at least 88 centimeters (34.7 inches) for women and at least 102 centimeters (40.2 inches) for men.

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      ‘GPs need to be more proactive’

      Prof. Kotseva urges primary care practitioners to be proactive about looking for cardiovascular risk factors.

      They need to probe beyond the risk factors that they are already aware of and “always investigate smoking, obesity, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes,” she argues.

      Individuals often don’t realize that they should be receiving treatment. They may visit their doctor for diabetes care and not know that they also have high blood pressure.

      “In our study, many participants with high blood pressure and cholesterol were not being treated,” notes Prof. Kotseva.

      She suggests that the findings highlight a need for more investment and policy that focuses on prevention.

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      The recent news follows that of earlier research that featured at the European Society of Cardiology Congress in April 2018 in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

      In that study, researchers from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN concluded that excess belly fat is “bad for the heart,” even in individuals whose BMI is in the normal range.

      They advised doctors not to assume that having normal BMI means that there is no heart-related issue in an otherwise healthy individual.

      A BMI in the normal range does not necessarily indicate normal fat distribution. It is important to measure central obesity as well, to get a better picture of heart risk.

      These data make it clear that more efforts must be made to improve cardiovascular prevention in people at high risk of cardiovascular disease.”

      Prof: Kornelia Kotseva

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Medical News Today: Future of Alzheimer’s therapy: What is the best approach?

Millions of people worldwide live with a form of dementia, the most common of which is Alzheimer’s disease. Currently, there is no way to halt its progress, but clinical trials of new drugs are underway. What approach will serve specialists best?
older woman at home
A new review of clinical trials advises on the best way forward.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 50 million people around the world live with dementia, and approximately 60–70 percent have Alzheimer’s disease.

The greatest risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease is aging, and people ages 65 or older are the most vulnerable.

Current treatments for this condition address its symptoms, such as memory loss and behavioral changes. However, more and more research aims to find a therapy that will tackle the biological changes that characterize Alzheimer’s disease.

But are researchers on the right track with their investigations, and what would be the best treatment approach? A new comprehensive review published in the journal Neurology, and available online, addresses these questions.

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Most trials target brain pathologies

In the review, specialists from the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation in New York, NY analyze current clinical trials for dementia drugs and advise about the best approach going forward.

“Alzheimer’s is a complex disease with many different factors that contribute to its onset and progression,” explains Dr. Howard Fillit, the review’s senior author.

Decades of research have revealed common processes that are relevant to understanding why the aging brain is vulnerable to Alzheimer’s disease. New therapeutics for Alzheimer’s disease will come from this understanding of the effects of aging on the brain.”

Dr. Howard Fillit

Because current therapies for Alzheimer’s focus on symptom management, but not on stopping the condition in its tracks, recent research has looked into attacking the Alzheimer’s mechanism, particularly in the brain.

One key characteristic of this condition is the buildup of toxic proteins, such as beta-amyloid and tau, which form plaques that interfere with communication between brain cells.

Thus, as the new review points out, many studies have focused on developing drugs that would effectively target beta-amyloid and tau.

In fact, such experimental drugs dominate the landscape of phase III clinical trials for Alzheimer’s treatments, with 52 percent of them testing drugs that interact with the two proteins.

Still, as Dr. Fillit notes, “It is currently not known if these classic pathologies (amyloid and tau) represent valid drug targets and if these targets alone are sufficient to treat Alzheimer’s disease.”

The reviewers observe that therapies targeting beta-amyloid and tau proteins have not, so far, been able to significantly slow down the development of Alzheimer’s, but that the trials have offered more important clues about the condition’s mechanisms.

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Combination therapy most likely to succeed

Although most trials have focused on drugs that target changes in the brain, the review’s authors note that a few trials in earlier phases (phases I or II) have been looking into other strategies, particularly ones that target aging processes that may exacerbate Alzheimer’s.

“Targeting the common biological processes of aging may be an effective approach to developing therapies to prevent or delay age-related diseases, such as Alzheimer’s,” Dr. Fillit says.

These processes include:

  • low-grade, chronic inflammation, which is associated with thinning layers of the cerebral cortex and poor blood flow to the brain — both of which can impact cognitive function
  • metabolic dysfunctions that can lead to cellular damage in the brain
  • vascular dysfunction, which can be associated with cognitive problems because it can mean that the brain does not receive enough blood, and thus may lack oxygen
  • changes in gene regulation that may contribute to Alzheimer’s mechanisms
  • a loss of synapses, the connecting points between neurons, which allow information to flow between brain cells

Dr. Fillit believes that “Our success in fighting Alzheimer’s disease will likely come from combination therapy — finding drugs that have positive effects on the malfunctions that happen as people age.”

By developing a series of drugs that each targets one of these key processes, specialists will see more success in halting the progress of Alzheimer’s, the authors argue.

“Combination therapies are the standard of care for other major diseases of aging, such as heart disease, cancer, and hypertension, and will likely be necessary in treating Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias,” adds Dr. Fillit.

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Medical News Today: What are the benefits of glutathione?

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