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Adenocarcinoma is a type of cancer that starts in the mucous glands inside of organs like the lungs, colon, or even breasts.

Learn about the treatment options for Adenocarcinoma at the UPMC Pituitary Center of Excellence.

Contact the UPMC Department of Neurosurgery

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What is Adenocarcinoma?

Adenocarcinoma is the most common form of colon and lung cancer. Most cases of adenocarcinoma found in the brain are the result of cancer cells that spread (metastasize) from another part of the body.

A very rare form of adenocarcinoma, adenoid cystic carcinoma, may start in the sinonasal mucosa and invade the skull base.

Symptoms of adenocarcinoma in the brain depend on the tumor's location, and may include headaches and seizures.

At UPMC, we offer several minimally invasive surgical treatments for adenocarcinoma that spreads to the brain.

  • Gamma Knife® radiosurgery: The preferred treatment for adenocarcinoma is often stereotactic radiosurgery using the Gamma Knife. This painless procedure uses hundreds of highly focused radiation beams to target brain tumors and lesions, with no surgical incision.
  • Endoscopic Endonasal Approach (EEA): The preferred surgical treatment for adenocarcinoma of the skull base is the Endoscopic Endonasal Approach. This innovative, minimally invasive technique uses the nose and nasal cavities as natural corridors to access hard-to-reach or previously inoperable tumors. Benefits of EEA include no incisions to heal, no disfigurement, and faster recovery time.
  • Neuroendoport® surgery: The preferred surgical treatment for adenocarcinoma in the ventricles or deep in substance of the brain is Neuroendoport surgery. This gives surgeons access to the tumor through a dime-size channel. This minimally invasive approach offers benefits such as minimal scarring, fewer side effects and complications, and faster recovery times than with traditional surgery.

Adenocarcinoma Symptoms and Diagnosis

The symptoms of adenocarcinoma depend on the tumor’s location, as different regions of the brain affects different parts of the body. Metastatic adenocarcinoma of the brain can trigger changes in the nervous system and cause changes in eye sight or problems walking and speaking, for example.

Diagnosing adenocarcinoma

To help diagnose adenocarcinoma in the brain or skull base, your doctor will order imaging studies such as MRI or CT scans. Your doctor will ask you about your symptoms.

Symptoms of adenocarcinoma in the brain or skull base

Adenocarcinoma symptoms may include:

  • Headaches/seizures
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Weakness or loss of sensation in the arms and/or legs
  • Speech, vision, or memory problems
  • Personality changes

Adenocarcinoma Treatments

For treating adenocarcinoma in the brain, our neurosurgical team may recommend a combination of surgical and radiosurgical approaches to maximize benefits while minimizing risks.

Minimally invasive surgery

The Endoscopic Endonasal Approach (EEA) gives surgeons a direct approach to an adenocarcinoma of the skull base. Surgeons can see the tumor well without making incisions to the face or skull, and remove the tumor through the nose and nasal cavities.

The benefits of EEA over traditional, open brain surgery include:

  • No incisions to heal
  • No disfigurement
  • Faster recovery time

Neuroendoport® surgery offers a minimally invasive treatment option for deep-seated tumors within the ventricles (fluid spaces) or substance of the brain.

A narrow tube or port allows doctors to access tumors such as adenocarcinoma through a tiny incision in the skull — in contrast to traditional brain surgery.

Gamma Knife® radiosurgery for adenocarcinoma

Gamma Knife radiosurgery is a painless treatment procedure that uses hundreds of highly focused radiation beams to target tumors and lesions within the brain, with no surgical incision.

UPMC doctors have experience treating thousands of people with adenocarcinoma using Gamma Knife stereotactic radiosurgery, establishing this technology as a preferred primary treatment for many patients.

UPMC neurosurgeons may also perform stereotactic radiosurgery treatment using the Cyberknife and other linear-accelerator-based systems.

As the nation's leading provider of Gamma Knife procedures, UPMC has treated more than 12,000 patients with tumors, vascular malformations, pain, and other functional problems.

Other adenocarcinoma treatments

Other treatments for adenocarcinoma may include chemotherapy or radiation therapy.

People who have radiosurgery or EEA surgery are able to continue other systemic treatments soon after their procedures.

Endoscopic Endonasal Approach (EEA)
Pituitary Tumor Removal Using the Endoscopic Endonasal Approach (EEA) at UPMC
Neuroendoport® Surgery
This animation illustrates the removal of a metastasis using the Neuroendoport technique.
Gamma Knife Radiosurgery
Dr. L. Dade Lunsford discusses Gamma Knife Radiosurgery.