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Cancer of Small Intestine – Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Cancer of Small Intestine – Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment

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.

Over time, small bowel cancer may grow and block the small intestine. The most common type of small bowel cancer is carcinoid tumour followed by adenocarcinoma.

small intestine cancer symptoms - Cancer of Small Intestine - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment 

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

 cancer of small intestine healthy lifestyle - Cancer of Small Intestine - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Prevention

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.


colonoscopy procedure johannesburg - Cancer of Small Intestine - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment

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 Tests

Blood samples can show signs of infection or changes in your liver function. The results tell your doctors which further tests may be useful.

  • Endoscopy

An endoscopy may also be performed to examine the small intestine and surrounding organs in more detail.

  • Biopsy

The removal of cells or tissues so they can be viewed under a microscope to check for signs of cancer.

  • Imaging

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.

 cancer of small intestine chemotherapy 1 - Cancer of Small Intestine - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment

 

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:

  • Surgery

Resection or bypass surgery is the most common treatment of small intestine cancer.

  • Radiation Therapy

After surgery, your gastroenterologist may recommend radiation therapy, which uses powerful X-rays to destroy cancer cells.

  • Chemotherapy

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.

    The Importance of Cancer Screening

    The Importance of Cancer Screening

    At GIDOCJHB, we conduct colon, liver, stomach, and pancreas cancer screening.

    We also works closely with patients to help them achieve good nutrition and manage digestive issues.

    In this article, we’ll be explaining colorectal and stomach cancer and the importance of cancer screening in diagnosing and treating cancer.

     colorectal cancer screening johannesburg 1 - The Importance of Cancer Screening

    What is Colorectal/Colon Cancer Screening?

    Colorectal cancer screening looks for polyps and traces of cancer in the colon and rectum in their early stages of being, before they cause any symptoms.

    When a person has symptoms, diagnostic tests are used to find out the cause of the symptoms.

    Detecting cancers early on reduces the likelihood of spread to other areas of the body, which increases overall survival rates, and the need for long term therapy decreases.

    It usually takes about 5 to 10 years for a small polyp to develop into colon cancer. This gives your gastroenterologist a window of opportunity to screen, as well as the ability to prevent new polyps from forming.

    Screening is most accomplished with the help of an instrument called a colonoscope, which allows a gastroenterologist to find polyps and remove them before they have a chance to develop into cancer.

    By detecting polyps in their early stages, they are usually smaller, and their removal becomes easier and safer.

    To find out more about Colorectal cancer in South Africa, click here

    Stage 0 colorectal cancer is the earliest stage. The stages progress up to stage 4, which is the most advanced stage. Here are the stages of colorectal cancer in more detail

    Stage 0

    This is the earliest form of colon cancer and means it has not grown beyond the mucosa or the innermost layer of the colon.

    Stage 1

    Stage 1 colon cancer indicates cancer has grown into the inner layer of the colon, called the mucosa, to the next layer of the colon, called the submucosa. It has not yet spread to the lymph nodes.

    Stage 2

    Cancer has spread to the walls of the colon or rectum but hasn’t affected the lymph nodes or nearby tissues yet.

    Stage 3

    Cancer has moved to the lymph nodes but not to other parts of the body yet. Usually, one to three lymph nodes are involved at this stage.

    Stage 4

    Stage 4 colon cancer is classified into two categories, stage 4A, and 4B:

    4A: This stage indicates that cancer has spread to one distant site, such as the liver or lungs.

    4B: This most advanced stage of colon cancer indicates cancer has spread to two or more distant sites, such as the lungs and liver.

     

    What is Stomach/Gastric Cancer Screening?

    Screening tests for stomach cancer are typically done if the symptoms of stomach cancer are present or if a doctor suspects stomach cancer after discussing it with a patient and completing a physical examination.

    Currently, no widespread screening methods or established programs for primary prevention or early detection exists.

     stomach cancer screening johannesburg 1 - The Importance of Cancer Screening

    Medical and Physical Examinations

    In a physical examination, a gastroenterologist feels the abdomen for fluid, swelling, or other changes. They will also check for swollen lymph nodes.

    A gastroenterologist will then examine the medical history of a person and their family to help make a diagnosis. In taking a medical history, you might get asked questions about:

    A personal history of:

    • Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection
    • Stomach surgery
    • Pernicious anemia
    • Gastritis: chronic inflammation of the stomach
    • What type of work you do or have been exposed to any occupational risk

    A family history of:

    • Stomach cancer
    • Hereditary diffuse gastric cancer
    • Rare genetic conditions
    • Other risk factors that may increase the risk of developing stomach cancer (i.e. obesity, diet, smoking, H. pylori infection)
    • Presence of other cancers

     

    Stomach Cancer Symptoms

    In the early stages, stomach cancers often do not cause any symptoms.

    Signs of stomach cancer include:

    • a painful or burning sensation in the abdomen
    • heartburn or indigestion (dyspepsia).
    • a sense of fullness, even after a small meal
    • nausea and/or vomiting
    • loss of appetite and/or weight loss
    • swelling of the abdomen
    • unexplained tiredness or weakness
    • blood in vomit
    • black-coloured faeces.

     

    Stomach Cancer Staging Tests

    Testing to help determine and identify the stages of stomach cancer may include:

    • Biopsies
    • Imaging testing, such as CT scan
    • Endoscopic ultrasound
    • Laparoscopy

     

    Stomach Cancer Stages

    Stage 0 stomach cancer is the earliest stage. The stages progress up to stage 4, which is the most advanced stage. Here are the stages of stomach cancer in more detail

    Stage 0:

    Abnormal cells are found in the mucosa (innermost layer) of the stomach wall. These abnormal cells may become cancerous and spread to nearby normal tissue.

    Stage 1A:

    Cancer has grown no further than the lining of the stomach. There is no cancer in the lymph nodes.

    Stage 1B:

    Has formed in the mucosa (innermost layer) of the stomach wall and may have spread to the submucosa (layer of tissue next to the mucosa).

    Cancer has spread to 1 or 2 nearby lymph nodes, or has formed in the mucosa of the stomach wall and has spread to the muscle layer.

    Stage 2A:

    One of the following applies:

    • has spread to the subserosa (layer of tissue next to the serosa) of the stomach wall; or
    • has spread to the muscle layer of the stomach wall and is found in 1 or 2 lymph nodes near the tumor; or
    • may have spread to the submucosa (layer of tissue next to the mucosa) of the stomach wall and is found in 3 to 6 lymph nodes near the tumor.

    Stage 2B:

    One of the following applies:

    • has spread to the serosa (outermost layer) of the stomach wall; or
    • has spread to the subserosa (layer of tissue next to the serosa) of the stomach wall and is found in 1 or 2 lymph nodes near the tumor; or
    • has spread to the muscle layer of the stomach wall and is found in 3 to 6 lymph nodes near the tumor

    Stage 3: 

    More advanced regional spread than Stage 2.

    Stage 4:

    Cancer has spread to other parts of the body (called distant metastasis), such as to the lungs, bone, peritoneum, or omentum. This is also called metastatic stomach cancer.

     

     

    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.