Mucinous carcinoma is a rare type of cancer. It starts in the main cells of mucus, called mucin. Although this type of cancer can develop anywhere, it’s most common in your breast. Mucinous carcinoma is often less aggressive than other cancer types and responds well to treatment.
Mucinous carcinoma is a rare type of cancer. In mucinous carcinoma, cancer cells form in mucin, the main component of mucus. Mucins are proteins that help with the function of healthy cells. In mucinous carcinoma, the mucin around cancer cells becomes part of the tumor.
Mucinous carcinoma can occur anywhere in your body, but it’s most common in your breast. When mucinous carcinoma occurs in your breast, it’s called colloid carcinoma. Mucinous carcinoma may also form in your lungs, colon or rectum.
Sometimes, the mucinous cancer cells are the only cancer cells present. This type is called pure mucinous carcinoma.
These mucin-surrounded cancer cells can also form along with other types of cancer cells. When this occurs, it’s called mixed mucinous carcinoma.
Adenocarcinoma starts in your mucous glands. Your mucous glands are clusters of mucous cells in the mucous membrane, which lines your digestive tract. With adenocarcinoma, people often produce too much mucin.
Mucinous carcinoma starts in the mucin, the protein that surrounds all cells. This type of cancer involves the mucin, which becomes part of the tumor.
Mucinous carcinoma is rare. It’s most common in breast cancer, accounting for about 7% of cases. It also accounts for:
In general, cancer forms when your body’s cells don’t break down or grow as usual. Healthcare providers don’t know exactly what causes cancer. Some factors that can affect your risk include:
Mucinous carcinoma symptoms are similar to symptoms of other cancer types. The first sign of mucinous carcinoma in your breast may be a lump in your breast tissue. You may also have:
Mucinous carcinoma can also form in your colon or rectum. The symptoms are similar to other types of colorectal cancer, including:
Mucinous carcinoma in your lungs may cause:
Mucinous carcinoma treatment depends on the cancer type and stage and your overall health. In cancer staging:
Mucinous carcinoma is often less aggressive than other cancer types. Oncologists (cancer doctors) may treat it with:
There’s no guaranteed way to prevent mucinous carcinoma. You can reduce your risk of developing any cancer by following a healthy lifestyle:
Many mucinous carcinomas are treatable. They’re usually less aggressive than other types of cancer. They don’t spread as quickly to your lymph nodes or other tissues.
With all types of cancer, the earlier you get treatment, the better your chances of a positive outcome. Pure mucinous carcinoma typically has a better prognosis than mixed mucinous carcinoma. In one study, the five-year survival rate of pure mucinous carcinoma was nearly 100%.
After any cancer treatment, you’ll need regular follow-ups with your healthcare provider. These visits monitor your overall health and help healthcare providers detect and treat cancer promptly if it does return (recurs).
You may want to ask your healthcare provider:
Mucinous carcinoma in the breast, especially pure mucinous carcinoma, is usually less aggressive than other types of breast cancer.
Yes. Mucinous carcinoma can spread to surrounding tissues or other parts of your body. But it’s less likely to spread than other types of cancer cells.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Mucinous carcinoma is a rare type of cancer. It can develop anywhere, but is most common in your breast. It may also form in your lungs, colon or rectum. Mucinous carcinoma causes symptoms similar to other types of cancer. It’s usually less aggressive, though, and less likely to metastasize (spread) to your lymph nodes. When your healthcare provider finds mucinous carcinoma in its early stages, it usually responds well to treatment.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 05/02/2022.
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