- Guidelines for treating this cancer have been developed by the Gastrointestinal (GI) Tumour Group.
- For health professional information on treating this cancer, please see our Cancer Management Guidelines.
- Other names/types of small intestine cancers are: small bowel cancer, small intestinal cancer, small intestine adenocarcinoma, gastrointestinal carcinoid tumour, small intestine lymphoma, small intestine liposarcoma, small intestine angiosarcoma, small intestine neurofibrosarcoma, small intestine leiomyosarcoma and gastrointestinal stromal tumour.
- The small intestine is a tube that connects the stomach to the large intestine.
- It is the largest part of the gastrointestinal tract. It is about one inch in diameter and about 15 to 20 feet long.
- It consists of three parts: the duodenum (connected to the stomach), the jejunum (the middle part) and the ileum (connected to the large intestine).
- Most of the digestion of food takes place in the small intestine.
What causes it and who gets it?
Listed below are some of the known risk factors for this cancer. Not all of the risk factors below may cause this cancer, but they may be contributing factors.
- Cancer of the small intestine is quite rare.
- About 60% of people who get small intestine cancer are men.
- Small intestine cancer is more common in people over 45.
- Eating large amounts of animal proteins and fat, refined carbohydrates, red meat, and salt-cured or smoked foods may increase the risk of small intestine cancer.
- The presence of a Helicobacter pylori infection may increase the risk of small intestine cancer.
- Having Crohn's Disease or Celiac Disease increases the risk of small intestine cancer.
- Those with inherited disorders such as Familial Adenomatous Polyposis (FAP), Hereditary Nonpolyposis Colorectal Cancer (HNPCC), Peutz-Jeghers Syndrome (PJS) and Cystic Fibrosis (CF) are at higher risk for small intestine cancer.
- There is also a small increase in risk for those who have had radiation therapy for cancer of the cervix.
Can I help to prevent it?
- Avoid eating large amounts of animal proteins and fat, refined carbohydrates, red meat, and salt-cured or smoked foods.
- Eat a gluten-free diet if you have celiac disease. This seems to decrease the risk of small intestine cancer.
Screening for this cancer
No effective screening program exists for this cancer yet.
People who are at higher than average risk of developing small intestine cancer, especially people with Familial Adenomatous Polyposis (FAP), may need to be tested so that if cancer develops it will be found at an early stage. Our Hereditary Cancer Program has more information.
Signs and Symptoms
- Non-specific symptoms may delay the diagnosis of small intestine cancer until the cancer has reached an advanced stage
- Pain or cramps in the abdomen is a common symptom
- Nausea or vomiting
- Gastrointestinal bleeding
- Unexplained weight loss
- Lump in the abdomen
- Obstruction of the bowel
- Blood in stool