Procedure for Small Intestine Cancer


What is a Small Intestine Cancer?

Small intestine or small bowel is the part of the digestive system which connects the stomach and large intestine. Small intestine cancer is a rare disease which involves the formation of a mass of abnormally proliferating cells in the small intestine. 2% of gastrointestinal cancers are small intestinal cancers. There are five types of intestinal cancers. Each cancer type has its own clinical behavior. Following are the five types :

  • Adenocarcinoma - This is the most common type of intestinal cancer which occurs in 30% to 40% of cases. It originates in the cells that line the small intestine.
  • Sarcoma - This type of cancer arises from the muscle tissue of the intestine.
  • Gastrointestinal stromal cancer - This is the rarest type of cancer which occurs in intestinal cells situated in the wall of the small intestine.
  • A carcinoid tumor - This cancer arises from the endocrine cells of the intestinal wall.
  • Lymphoma - This type of cancer arises from the lymph nodes of the last part of small intestine.

Risk Factors of Small Intestine Cancer

  • Common in males than females
  • More than 60 years of age is a risk factor for adenocarcinoma
  • Smoking and alcohol use
  • Coeliac disease - (Disease which can interfere with digestion and absorption of the nutrients)
  • Crohn’s disease - Chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract
  • High fibre diet
  • Family history

Symptoms of Small Intestine Cancer

Most of the small intestine cancer symptoms and bowel cancer symptoms are vague Some of the common symptoms are listed below.

  • Abdominal pain - This is the earliest and most common small intestine cancer symptom.
  • Abdominal pain usually arising after eating. When a tumour becomes larger, pain is aggravated due to intestinal obstruction.
  • Lump in the abdomen
  • Blood in stools
  • Diarrhoea
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite

Early Diagnosis of the Small Intestine or Small Bowel Cancer

In addition to the physical symptoms, following are the diagnostics done to diagnose the intestinal tumour:

  • Blood tests usually include the full blood count (FBC). The distinct finding noted in patients with small intestine cancer is anaemia.
  • Endoscopy or colonoscopy
  • Biopsy
  • CT scans
  • Kidney function tests
  • Liver function tests.

Prognosis of Small Intestine Cancer

Prognosis of small bowel cancer depends on the size of cancer, location and involvement of the lymph nodes and adjacent organs.

  • If the intestinal tumour has not spread to adjacent tissues or lymph nodes, the 5-year overall survival rate is 55%.
  • If cancer involves the nearby tissues, the 5-year survival rate is about 35%.
  • If the cancer has spread to lymph nodes (intestinal lymphoma), there is a chance to spread the cancer throw-out the body.
  • The 5-year survival rate can be reduced up to 5% depending on the number of involved lymph nodes.

Treatment Options for Small Intestine Cancer

Treatments for intestinal tumour or small intestine cancer are as follows:

  1. Chemotherapy and radiotherapy play a major role in the management of the Small bowel cancer. In chemotherapy, oral or injectable drugs are prescribed to destroy or to stop the proliferation (multiplication) of cancer cells. In radiotherapy, x rays, gamma rays or electron beams are used to destroy the cancer cells as a localized treatment.
  2. Best treatment method for small bowel cancer is a surgery. In the surgical procedure, affected part of the intestine is removed and anastomosis (a connection created surgically between the adjacent blood supply, sections of the intestine, or other channels) is done. Lymph nodes are also removed if involved.
  3. Clinical trials which include biologic therapy and radiation therapy with radio sensitizers.
    1. In biologic therapy, substances are used to boost or restore the body’s natural immune system.
    2. Radio sensitizers are the drugs that used to increase the sensitivity for the radiation therapy.

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