Diagnosis & staging
These are tests that may be used to diagnose this type of cancer:
- Blood tests
- Barium X-ray
- CT scan
- Wireless capsule endoscopy
For more information on tests used to diagnose cancer, see our Recommended Websites, Diagnostic Tests section.
Types and Stages
- Adenocarcinoma is the most common type of small intestine cancer.
- It starts in the glandular cells in the lining of the small intestine.
- 14% of small bowel tumours are lymphomas.
- Most are non-Hodgkin's lymphomas.
- Carcinoid tumours
- Carcinoid tumours are slow-growing cancers that grow in hormone-producing (endocrine) cells in the lining of the intestine.
- These tumours account for 30% of small bowel malignancies.
- Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumour (GIST)
- 85% of tumours formerly called leiomyosarcomas are now known to be GISTs. GISTs start in cells that are part of the autonomic nervous system in the wall of the intestine. About 50 people are diagnosed with GIST in BC per year. Some GISTs are benign.
- Sarcomas are slow-growing tumours that account for 11% of small bowel cancers.
- Types of sarcomas include:
- liposarcomas – start in the fat cells
- angiosarcomas – start in the blood vessels
- neurofibrosarcomas – start in the nerves
- leiomyosarcomas - start in the smooth muscles of the small intestine
Staging describes the extent of a cancer. The TNM classification system is used as the standard around the world. In general, a lower number in each category means a better prognosis. The stage of the cancer is used to plan the treatment.
T describes the site and size of the main tumour (primary)
N describes involvement of lymph nodes
M relates to whether the cancer has spread (presence or absence of distant metastases)
In situ disease only. The cancer has not spread through the inner layers of the small intestine.
The cancer has grown through the inner layers of the small intestine, but has not spread into nearby tissue or lymph nodes.
The cancer has spread through the wall of the small intestine, but has not spread to the nearby lymph nodes.
The cancer has spread to lymph nodes, but it has not spread to other parts of the body.
The cancer has spread to other parts of the body.