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Small Intestinal Cancer / Cancer of the Small Intestine

Written by Dr. Enozia Vakil, B.A.M  | Medically Reviewed by The Medindia Medical Review Team  on Nov 28, 2014
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Small intestinal cancer also known as Small Bowel Cancer refers to the formation of cancerous tumors in parts of the small intestine. Cancer of the Small Intestine is rare ascompared to other malignant tumor formations of the gastrointestinal systemsuch as Stomach Cancer and Colorectal Cancer. If left undetected, these tumorshave the potential to metastasize and invade other neighboring structures.

Small Intestine Cancer

The cancer of the small intestine can be divided into three categories based on the location: Duodenal cancer, Cancer of the jejunum and Cancer of the ileum

Apart from these three main categories of small intestine cancer, there exist several subtypes namely:


Adenocarcinoma, Gastrointestinal stromal tumor, Lymphoma and Ileal carcinoid tumor. Often, non-cancerous tumors and health conditions like the hamartoma and tuberculosis tend to be mistaken for small intestinal cancer.

What are the Risk factors of Small Intestine Cancer?

Several factors may increase the risk of small intestine cancer. In general, it is noticed that the incidence is higher among male than women. Exposure to certain radiations, carcinogenic agents and environmental pollutants may also raise the risk of an individual getting affected by cancer of the small intestine. Also, individuals suffering from Celiac Disease, Crohn’s disease and familial adenomatous polyposis are at a much greater risk. Adenocarcinoma, one of the most deadly malignant cancers, occurs more often in industrialized countries as opposed to the developing countries.

Small Intestine Cancer Crohns Disease

Whereas, the occurrence of lymphomas are more common in developing countries. Also, exposure over a prolonged duration of time to some substances such as Alcohol, sugar, salted or smoked meats and fishes can significantly increase the risk of different types of small intestinal cancers.

Small Intestine Cancer Alcohol

Further, people suffering from gluten intolerance especially those suffering from the associated fistula disease and Peutz-Jaegher syndrome are also part of the high risk group.

What are the Symptoms and Signs of Small Intestine Cancer?

Though most cancers are asymptomatic in their early stage, there are certain subtle signs and symptoms which could signify the presence of a malignant growth in the small intestine. Listed below are few of them:

  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Symptoms and Signs of Small Intestine Cancer: Fatigue and Weakness
  • Unexplained Weight Loss
  • Deficiency of Iron
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Bloating
  • Jaundice
  • Visible blood loss in stools

How can we Diagnose Small Intestine Cancer?

An endoscopy of the upper gastrointestinal tract can help detect cancerous formations in the region. A barium contrast study of the small intestine, also known as the small bowel series, may also help in the diagnosis. Other diagnostic tools include an abdominal ultrasound, a CT scan of the abdomen and a Colonoscopy.

Small Intestine Cancer Endoscopy

How can Small Intestine Cancer be Treated?


Surgical removal of the tumor is the primary treatment. In case the tumor has metastasized and is not localized to one area then Chemotherapy may be helpful. On the other hand, radiation therapy may help destroy cancerous tumors localized to a particular area.

Small Intestine Cancer Surgery

How can Small Intestine Cancer be Prevented?

Regular screenings, especially in individuals who have a family history of small intestinal cancer, Peutz-Jeghers, Gardner syndrome, Crohn’s disease can help prevent small intestinal cancer. Patients suffering from Celiac Disease can cut down their risk of the disease by maintaining a gluten-free diet and keeping a note of any persistent abdominal conditions such as Diarrhea, bloating and vomiting.

Small Intestine Cancer Diet


  1. Small intestine cancer - (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Small_intestine_cancer)
  2. Small bowel cancer - (http://www.mayoclinic.org/small-bowel-cancer/)

Latest Publications and Research on Small Intestinal Cancer

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