Abdominal actinomycosis, a rare bacterial infection caused by Actinomyces species, can present a perplexing diagnostic challenge to healthcare practitioners, often masquerading as neoplastic processes such as colon cancer. A study published in the March-April 2019 issue of “Chirurgia (Bucharest, Romania : 1990)” underscores the need for heightened clinical vigilance and considerations for differential diagnosis in suspected cases of abdominal malignancy. This article delves into the findings of the study, exploring the intricacies of diagnosing and managing abdominal actinomycosis within the broader context of differential diagnosis.

Methods and Results

Following a retrospective analysis, the researchers, led by Târcoveanu Eugen et al., presented data from patients diagnosed with abdominal actinomycosis, examining the outcomes of various treatment modalities. These comprised surgical intervention, laparoscopy, and antibiotic therapy, predominantly involving penicillins. Their study highlighted the clinical presentations, emphasizing the similar symptomatology shared with more commonly suspected colon neoplasms.


The significance of this study is multi-faceted, presenting a compelling case for actinomycosis to be a part of the differential diagnosis when encountering abdominal masses, potentially reframing initial assumptions and influencing treatment strategies. The study’s findings serve as a testament to the importance of combining surgical intervention with antibiotic therapy for effective management of abdominal actinomycosis, and the necessity for increased awareness of this condition among clinicians.

The Mimicking Disease: Actinomycosis Vs. Colon Cancer

Abdominal actinomycosis presents a formidable challenge due to its capacity to mimic colonic neoplasms both clinically and radiologically. Both conditions may present with weight loss, abdominal pain, palpable mass, and changes in bowel habits. Imaging studies frequently show inflammatory pseudotumors which, in the case of actinomycosis, are actually collections of the infectious organisms rather than malignant cells.

The study by Târcoveanu Eugen and colleagues, with DOI 10.21614/chirurgia.114.2.251, elucidates our understanding of the clinical and therapeutic nuances to differentiate and treat this abdominal masquerader. Their work adds a crucial layer to the scarce literature surrounding this topic.

Diagnostic Dilemmas and Advances

The diagnostic challenges of abdominal actinomycosis stem primarily from its rarity and nonspecific clinical presentation, which leads to frequent misdiagnoses. As Târcoveanu Eugen’s team reveals, a combination of clinical suspicion and diagnostic tools, such as histopathological examination, are vital to distinguishing it from malignant conditions.
With current advances in diagnostic imaging and minimally invasive techniques like laparoscopy, earlier detection and reduced morbidity are becoming more achievable goals. Nevertheless, vigilance and a multidisciplinary approach remain vital.

The Role of Penicillin Therapy

The cornerstone of actinomycosis treatment has long been high-dose penicillin therapy, often extended over several months. Târcoveanu Eugen’s research reaffirms this, showcasing the efficacy of such anti-bacterial agents in conjunction with surgical drainage or debridement of infected tissue. This combination therapy has been demonstrated to yield favourable outcomes and reduce rates of recurrence.

Significant Case Studies and Experiences

The article discusses several cases that illustrate the ambiguity between actinomycosis and colon cancer. One such case involved a middle-aged female who presented with abdominal pain and weight loss, leading to initial suspicions of colonic malignancy. However, subsequent investigations confirmed actinomycosis, thus altering the treatment course. These real-world examples serve to enhance the clinical acumen of practitioners and emphasize the need for comprehensive evaluations.


The following references provide additional insights into the topic of abdominal actinomycosis and its differentiation from colon cancer:

1. Valour, F., Sénéchal, A., Dupieux, C., Karsenty, J., Lustig, S., Breton, P., … & Ader, F. (2014). Actinomycosis: etiology, clinical features, diagnosis, treatment, and management. Infection and Drug Resistance, 7, 183–197.
2. Wong, V. K., Turmezei, T. D., & Weston, V. C. (2011). Actinomycosis. BMJ, 343, d6099.
3. Könönen, E., & Wade, W. G. (2015). Actinomyces and related organisms in human infections. Clinical Microbiology Reviews, 28(2), 419-442.
4. Ferry, T., Valour, F., Karsenty, J., & Ader, F. (2016). Actinomycosis: What is new in the diagnosis and management?. La Revue de Médecine Interne, 37(11), 763-769.
5. Chirurgia (Bucharest, Romania : 1990). (2019). Abdominal Actinomycosis Mimicking Colon Cancer. Chirurgia, 114(2), 251-258.


1. Abdominal Actinomycosis Diagnosis
2. Colon Cancer Mimic
3. Actinomyces Infection Treatment
4. Differential Diagnosis Abdominal Pain
5. Penicillin Therapy Actinomycosis


In sum, Târcoveanu Eugen’s work, as published in “Chirurgia,” serves as a pivotal study drawing attention to the clinical complexity of abdominal actinomycosis, a condition that warrants consideration when clinicians are confronted with presentations commonly attributed to colonic neoplasms. It underscores the importance of maintaining a differential diagnosis mindset and showcases the promise of penicillin-based treatment regimens for favorable patient outcomes. This study fosters a deeper understanding of the challenges posed by actinomycosis and the advancements in managing this elusive imitator of colon cancer effectively.