Small Intestine Cancer

Small Intestine Cancer


Small Intestine Cancer is a type of cancer affecting the small bowel or intestine, which lies between the stomach and the large bowel or the colon.

The small intestine is around five meters long. Its main function is to digest and absorb minerals, vitamins and nutrients. The small intestine has three parts lower parts in the ileum, jejunum in the middle and duodenum at the top.

Types of Small Intestine Cancer

The type of small intestine cancer that occurs depends upon the location of the cells where they occur. It may be Sarcoma, adenocarcinoma, lymphoma and neuroendocrine tumors.

Below given is the brief introduction about the types of small intestine cancer:

  • Sarcoma: They usually get developed in the ileum, but have the ability to affect any part of the small intestine.
  • Adenocarcinoma: They usually begin from the epithelial cells and are the most common type of the small intestine carcinoma. They get developed in the duodenum.
  • Lymphoma: They are usually found in the jejunum.
  • Neuroendocrine Carcinoma: They usually get developed in the hormone producing cells mostly in the ileum or the appendix.

Each of these carcinoids have distinct behavior and therefore involves different treatment process.

Symptoms & Causes

The symptoms Small Intestine Cancer are much similar to other types of carcinomas, which makes it difficult for a patient or a doctor to suspect it. The symptoms may include the occurrence of Abdominal or stomach pain, Sudden weight loss, Feeling sick or nauseous, Noticeable lump in the abdomen, Bleeding in rare cases and Blocked intestine in few cases.

However, abdominal pain which, if accompanied by vomiting and nausea is the sign of abdominal obstruction. In this case immediate medical attention and surgery is required to remove the blockage.

Some of the causes of why this cancer gets develops may be due to the following reasons:

  • Lifestyle factors like eating a diet rich in smoked food, red meat or high in fats.
  • Drinking alcohol and smoking habits may affect the small intestine cancer risk in a person.
  • Hereditary or Lynch syndrome where there is a rare genetic fault.
  • FAP (Familial Adenomatous Polyposis) where an inherited faulty gene is responsible to cause development of polyps in the lining of the intestine.


The small intestine is present deep inside the body, thus it is difficult to diagnose or samples to be taken with a biopsy using colonoscopy or endoscopy. Tests are also there to diagnose the carcinomas. There is a blood test which can tell that the red blood corpuscle count is low indicating anemia and liver tests. Consumption of a special liquid for Barium X-Ray and then tracking its progress through the bowel. Also, the CT scan of the chest is done to find out whether it has spread to the other parts of the body. There is also a type of Capsule Endoscopy procedure where small capsule with light and camera is swallowed, which takes picture of intestine from inside.


The treatment of Small Intestine Cancer includes the treatment procedures like Surgery, Radiotherapy and Chemotherapy, they may be explained in the following ways:

  • Surgery: Surgery can be performed by open method or laparoscopically which uses large incisors in which the portion affected with small tumors, surrounding fat with lymph nodes is removed. It is often the best treatment.
  • Radiotherapy: It is a treatment procedure which destroys the cancer causing cells through the rays. It is either followed by surgery and chemotherapy or vice versa.
  • Chemotherapy: This includes the treatment of various stages of cancer using medications. The medications work by using the body’s immune system itself fighting for the cancer.


There are some complications that may arise as a result of the treatment procedures. One complication is that the intestinal bleeding is common and may require surgical intervention and transfusion support. Complete or partial small intestine obstruction may occur which must be treated either conservatively or through the surgery.  Also, transhepatic biliary drainage has to be performed if feasible.

Post Operative Care

After all the treatments being taken, the follow ups and care is mandatory. Follow up visits should be there every three months to access for signs or symptoms suggesting the recurring of the disease.


Abdominal CT scans should be done to identify recurrent disease at an earlier stage.


Liver function test and CBC count should be checked periodically in order to identify abnormal liver enzymes or anemia.

Higher risk of secondary malignancies should be avoided with colonoscopy.