At GIDOCJHB, we offer advanced care for people with small intestine cancer.
We create a personalised treatment plan based on factors such as the characteristics of your tumor, your health history, and your family’s medical history.
Our approach incorporates all aspects of diagnosis, treatment, and supportive care.
Dr. Schneider will determine where your cancer started and how far it has progressed.
We aim to provide the diagnostics (tests) and treatment for small intestine cancer, and your care plan will be custom-made to treat your specific small intestine cancer.
What is Cancer of the Small Intestine?
The small intestine is part of the body’s digestive system, which also includes the esophagus, stomach, and large intestine.
The small intestine is a long tube that connects the stomach to the large intestine. In total, the small bowel makes up about 75% of the human body’s entire digestive system.
The small bowel plays a critical role in the breakdown and absorption of food, so that important vitamins, minerals, and nutrients can be absorbed into the body.
Small intestine cancer (also known as small bowel cancer) is a rare form of cancer that occurs when cells in the small bowel begin to grow out of control.
Small Intestine Cancer Early Signs and Symptoms
In the early stages, symptoms may be vague and hard to connect to cancer. Often, the first symptom is pain in the stomach area. This pain is often cramping related and may not be constant.
For example, it may start or get worse after you eat. As the tumor gets larger, it can slow the passage of digested food through the intestine.
This can lead to increased pain. If the tumor gets large enough, it can cause an obstruction.
Other digestive problems can cause similar symptoms. However, some early warning signs and common symptoms of small intestine cancer include:
- Pain in the belly (abdomen)
- Nausea or vomiting
- Unexplained weight loss
- Weakness and feeling tired (fatigue)
- Gastrointestinal bleeding
- Dark-colored stools (from bleeding into the intestine)
- Low red blood cell counts (anemia)
- Yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice)
Call your gastroenterologist if you have any of these symptoms.
Even if the cause isn’t small bowel cancer, they might be signs of other health problems that need treatment.
If you’d like to find out more about the symptoms of small intestine cancer, click here.
Early Stages of Small Intestine Cancer
Gastroenterologists define staging based on:
- How deep the tumor has penetrated the lining of the small intestine.
- Whether the cancer cells have spread to nearby lymph nodes.
- Whether cancer has spread to other organs.
Gastroenterologists stage the progress of small intestine adenocarcinoma as follows:
- Stage 0 — the tumor hasn’t gone beyond the top layer of mucosa cells in the small intestine.
- Stage I — the tumor has grown into deeper cells but hasn’t yet spread to lymph nodes.
- Stage II — this stage can be A, B, or C. It depends on how deeply the tumor has grown into the cells.
- Stage III — this stage can also be A, B, or C, depending on how many lymph nodes the cancer has spread to.
- Stage IV — cancer has spread (metastasized) to other parts of the body, such as liver or lungs
Small Intestine Cancer Risk Factors and Causes
Not all of the risk factors below may cause this cancer, but they may be contributing factors. They include:
- Age 60 or older
- Consuming frequent Alcohol or tobacco
- Being male
- Celiac disease
- Crohn’s disease
- Diet high in fat or in cured or smoked foods
- There is also a small increase in risk for those who have had radiation therapy for cancer of the cervix.
- Family history
It’s still not yet clear what may help to reduce the risk of small intestine cancer, since it’s a rare form of cancer. However, If you’re interested in reducing your risk of cancer in general, it may help to:
- Eat a Balanced and Healthy Diet
A variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains contain vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants, which give you body the energy and nutrients to help fight off diseases and lower your risk.
- Cut out Alcohol
If you choose to drink alcohol, limit the amount of alcohol you drink with the aim of eliminating it completely.
- Stop Smoking
If you’re struggling with quitting, talk to your gastroenterologist about ways to quit that may work for you.
- Exercise Regularly
Getting your heart rate up and body moving, stretching, and working is important. Try to get at least 30 minutes of exercise on most days.
- Maintain a Healthy Body Weight
If you need to lose weight, ask your gastroenterologist about healthy ways to achieve your goal, combined with an eating plan.
How Is Small Intestine Cancer Diagnosed?
The type of tests to diagnose small bowel cancer will vary depending on the symptoms and type of small bowel cancer.
Your diagnostic tests may include:
Physical Exam and History
An exam of the body to check general signs of health, including checking for signs of disease, such as lumps or anything else that seems unusual.
Blood samples can show signs of infection or changes in your liver function. The results tell your doctors which further tests may be useful.
An endoscopy may also be performed to examine the small intestine and surrounding organs in more detail.
The removal of cells or tissues so they can be viewed under a microscope to check for signs of cancer.
Specialized imaging tests can identify cancerous cells (lesions) in your intestinal tract.
Your gastroenterologist may order X-rays, CT scans or MRI scans to help understand a tumor’s location and type.
Small Intestine Cancer Treatment
Different types of treatments are available for patients with small intestine cancer. Small intestine cancer treatment usually involves surgery.
After surgeons remove the tumor, you may need follow-up care including radiation or chemotherapy. Your treatment options may include:
Resection or bypass surgery is the most common treatment of small intestine cancer.
After surgery, your gastroenterologist may recommend radiation therapy, which uses powerful X-rays to destroy cancer cells.
Chemotherapy is a cancer treatment that uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells, either by killing the cells or by stopping them from dividing.
DISCLAIMER: PLEASE READ CAREFULLY
The information on this website is to provide general guidance. In no way does any of the information provided reflect definitive medical advice and self-diagnoses should not be made based on information obtained online. It is important to consult a Gastroenterologist or medical doctor regarding ANY and ALL symptoms or signs including, but not limited to: abdominal pain, haemorrhoids or anal / rectal bleeding as it may a sign of a serious illness or condition. A thorough consultation and examination should ALWAYS be performed for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. Be sure to call a physician or call our office today and schedule a consultation.