Small Intestine Cancer

Note: The information on cancer types on the ACRF website is not designed to provide medical or professional advice and is for information only. If you have any health problems or questions please consult your doctor.

  • What is Small Intestine Cancer?

    Small Intestine Cancer is a rare disease in which cancer cells form in the tissues of the small intestine.

    The small intestine is part of the body’s digestive system and is a long tube that connects the stomach to the large intestine. It folds many times to fit inside the abdomen.

  • Types of Small Intestine Cancer

    Adenocarcinoma is the most common form of Small Intestine Cancer. It starts in the glandular cells found in the lining of the small intestine and most of these tumours occur in the part of the small intestine near the stomach. They may grow and block the intestine.

    Other types of small intestinal cancer include:

    • Sarcoma
    • Carcinoid tumours
    • Gastrointestinal stromal tumour
    • Lymphoma.
  • Small Intestine Cancer Symptoms

    Possible signs of Small Intestine Cancer include abdominal pain and unexplained weight loss.

    It is important to note that there are a number of conditions that may cause these symptoms, not just small intestine cancer.

    Your GP should be consulted if any of the following problems occur:

    • Pain or cramps in the middle of the abdomen
    • Unexplained weight loss
    • Unusual lump in the abdomen
    • Blood in the stool
  • Small Intestine Cancer Treatment

    Diagnosing Small Intestine Cancer

    Tests that examine the small intestine are used to detect, diagnose, and stage small intestine cancer. These can include:

    • Abdominal x-ray: An x-ray of the organs in the abdomen.
    • Barium enema: A liquid that contains barium (a silver-white metallic compound) is put into the rectum. The barium coats the lower gastrointestinal tract and x-rays are taken.
    • Faecal Occult Blood Test: A test to check the stool for blood that can only be seen with a microscope.
    • Upper endoscopy: An endoscope (a thin, lighted tube) is inserted through the mouth and into the oesophagus, stomach, and duodenum. Tissue samples may be taken for biopsy.
    • Upper GI series with small bowel follow-through: The patient drinks a liquid that contains barium (a silver-white metallic compound). The liquid coats the oesophagus, stomach, and small bowel. X-rays are taken at different times as the barium travels through the upper gastrointestinal tract and small intestine.
    • Lymph node biopsy: The removal of all or part of a lymph node to be tested for cancer cells.
    • Laparotomy: A surgical procedure in which an incision is made in the wall of the abdomen to check the inside for signs of disease.

    Small Intestine Cancer Treatment

    If Small Intestine Cancer is diagnosed, treatment options for the cancer depend on the stage of the disease, the severity of symptoms and the person’s general health. Treatment options can include surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and/or biologic therapies to destroy cancer cells.

    Small intestine cancer is most commonly treated with surgery. The different types of surgery include:

    • Resection: This surgery involves removal of part or all of an organ that contains cancer. This may include the small intestine as well as nearby organs (if the cancer has spread). The lymph nodes near the small intestine will usually also be removed and examined under a microscope to see whether they contain cancer cells.
    • Bypass: If a tumour is blocking the intestine but cannot be removed, a bypass will usually be performed to allow food to move around the blockage.

    Some patients may be given radiation therapy after surgery to kill any potential cancer cells that are left.

    Immunotherapy can also be another treatment that is used. The therapy involves using a patient’s own immune system to fight cancer.

Small intestine cancer statistics

  • 909

    new cases of small intestine cancer are estimated to be diagnosed in 2022

  • 69.2%

    is the five-year survival rate for small intestine cancer

  • 67.8

    years is the median age at diagnosis

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Cancer in Australia 2017, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare

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