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Small Bowel Cancer

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The small bowel is part of the digestive system designed to break down the nutrients and food so they can be absorbed into the body. The small bowel connects the stomach and colon, and is divided into the duodenum, jejunum, and ileum. Contrary to its name, the small bowel measures approximately 15 feet in length and makes up nearly 75% of the digestive system. Small bowel cancer starts when cells become cancerous and start to grow out of control causing a tumor to form.

To learn more about small bowel cancer, please contact Central Florida Hepatology & Gastroenterology at 407.303.1812 or request an appointment on our website.

Symptoms of Small Bowel Cancer

There are five different types of small bowel cancer:

  • Adenocarcinoma – this is the most common type of small bowel cancer. It begins in the glandular cells most often located in the duodenum.
  • Sarcoma – this type of small bowel cancer consists of a tumor within the muscle tissue in the ileum.
  • Gastrointestinal stromal tumor – not very common type of tumor believed to start in the GI tract.
  • Carcinoid tumor – this type of small bowel cancer originates in the cells that produce hormones within the small bowel.
  • Lymphoma – cancer of the lymph system that most often shows up in the jejunum and ileum.
  • Because of the various types of small bowel cancer, not all individuals suffer from the same types or severity of symptoms.
  • “These in bullets”
  • Blood in the stool
  • Abnormally dark or black fecal matter
  • Diarrhea
  • Lump located in the abdomen
  • Severe pain and cramping in the abdomen
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Abdominal pain

Causes of Small Bowel Cancer

Not much is known about the causes of small bowel cancer. It perplexes many health care experts because it is makes up the vast majority of the digestive system yet is only responsible for less than 3% of adenocarcinomas. Physicians do warn that there are several risk factors that may increase the chances of developing small bowel cancer:

  • Poor diet – a diet full of high fat, high sugar and lacking in vegetables can raise the risk of small bowel cancer.
  • Crohn’s disease – because Crohn’s involves constant inflammation of the GI tract, it can lead to higher rates of small bowel cancer.
  • Celiac disease – Celiac disease causes the body’s immune system to react to gluten in a way that can lead to damaging the small bowel lining.

Treatment for Small Bowel Cancer

Surgery is the most common form of small bowel cancer treatment. An oncologist will go in and remove the tumor and tissue in the surrounding area. Surgery is often the most effective form of treatment, but includes side effects such as pain, swelling, tenderness and the possibility of being placed on a restricted diet.

Other forms of treatment designed to kill small bowel cancer cells include radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Immunotherapy is a treatment option designed to boost the body’s ability to fight off cancer naturally.

To learn more about small bowel cancer, please contact Central Florida Hepatology & Gastroenterology at 407.303.1812 or request an appointment on our website.