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Small Intestine Cancer

What is small intestine cancer?

Small intestine cancer is a rare form of gastrointestinal (GI) cancer. As the name suggests, it occurs when cells in the small intestine begin to rapidly multiply out of control. Different types of this cancer depend on which type of cell is impacted. The four major forms of small intestine cancer are carcinoid tumors, adenocarcinoma, sarcoma, and lymphoma. 

What are the symptoms of small intestine cancer?

Symptoms of small intestine cancer include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Anemia
  • Jaundice
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Dark-colored stools

What causes small intestine cancer?

There is no known cause for some of the forms of small intestine cancer (adenocarcinoma, sarcoma, and lymphoma). However, medical professionals have identified a number of risk factors. These include being male, being over the age of 60, being African American, smoking, consuming alcohol, Celiac disease, colon cancer, Crohn’s disease, and a diet high in red meat, smoked foods, and salted foods. Additionally, there are certain genetic conditions that heighten the risk of small intestine cancer: familial adenomatous polyposis, Lynch syndrome, Peutz-Jeghers syndrome, cystic fibrosis, and MUYTH-associated polyposis. 

In the case of carcinoid tumors of the small intestine, there are a number of genetic mutations that have been associated with this cancer. Four tumor suppressor genes have been linked to small intestine cancer: NF1, MEN1, VHL, and TSC1 or TSC2. These genes typically mutate sporadically. 

How is small intestine cancer diagnosed?

Diagnosis for this rare cancer can be difficult, as many of the symptoms are similar to other conditions. In most cases, it is these symptoms that make a patient seek medical help. A doctor will first look for these characteristic symptoms, followed by a physical exam, evaluation of family history, and evaluation of possible risk factors. If small intestine cancer is suspected, doctors will order the following tests: blood tests, X-rays, CT scans, MRIs, endoscopies, and biopsies. 

What are the treatments for small intestine cancer?

There are various treatment options for small intestine cancer, and surgery is the major choice. Possible procedures include segmental resection, Whipple procedure, and palliative surgery. Other options are chemotherapy and radiation therapy. 

Where can I find out more about small intestine cancer?

Small Intestine Cancer Articles