Small Intestine Cancer

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Small intestine cancer is a rare cancer that forms in tissues of the small intestine (the part of the digestive tract between the stomach and the large intestine). The most common type is adenocarcinoma (cancer that begins in cells that make and release mucus and other fluids). Other types of small intestine cancer include sarcoma (cancer that begins in connective or supportive tissue), carcinoid tumor (a slow-growing type of cancer), gastrointestinal stromal tumor (a type of soft tissue sarcoma), and lymphoma (cancer that begins in immune system cells). 

Diet and health history can affect the risk of developing small intestine cancer. Other risk factors include:

  • Eating a high-fat diet
  • Having Crohn disease
  • Having celiac disease
  • Having familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP)

Symptoms of Small Intestine Cancer

Check with your doctor if you have any of the following:

  • Pain or cramps in the middle of the abdomen
  • Weight loss with no known reason
  • A lump in the abdomen
  • Blood in the stool


The following tests and procedures may be used:

  • Physical exam and history
  • Blood chemistry studies
  • Liver function tests
  • Endoscopy
  • Upper endoscopy
  • Capsule endoscopy
  • Double balloon endoscopy
  • Laparotomy
  • Biopsy
  • Upper GI series with small bowel follow-through
  • CT scan (CAT scan)
  • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)

Treating Cancer of the Small Intestine

If your tumor can't be removed with surgery, we will use treatments that include: 

  • Surgery to bypass the tumor
  • Radiation therapy to relieve symptoms and improve quality of life
  • Chemotherapy



Content was created using EBSCO’s Health Library. Edits to original content made by Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia. This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice.