Your small intestine is part of your digestive system. It is a long tube that connects your stomach to your large intestine. Intestinal cancer (also known as small bowel cancer) is rare and depending on what kind of cell is affected, it is usually one of five types:
- Carcinoid tumor
- Gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST)
What Causes Intestinal Cancer?
Intestinal cancer does not currently have a known cause, but there are factors that may increase the risk of the condition.
These risk factors are:
- Consistently eating a high-fat diet
- Having a gene mutation such as Lynch syndrome, familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) and Peutz-Jeghers syndrome
- Suffering from other bowel diseases like Crohn's disease, inflammatory bowel disease and celiac disease
- Having a weakened immune system
Additionally, intestinal cancer can cause complications, including:
- An increased risk of other cancers – People who have intestinal cancer run a higher risk of having other types of cancers, including those that affect the colon, rectum, ovaries and the lining of the uterus (endometrium).
- Cancer that spreads to other parts of the body - Advanced intestinal cancer can spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body, most often the liver.
What Are the Symptoms of Intestinal Cancer?
Possible signs and symptoms of intestinal cancer include:
- Abdominal pain
- Blood in the stool, which might appear red or black
- Yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes (jaundice)
- Watery diarrhea
- Feeling unusually weak or tired
- Losing weight without trying
- Skin flushing
How Is Intestinal Cancer Diagnosed?
Diagnosing intestinal cancer can be difficult, so multiple forms of testing are often done to get a clear diagnosis. These can include:
- Imaging tests such as CT scans, MRI, positron emission tomography (PET) and X-rays
- Endoscopic tests
- Surgery to examine your small intestine
How Is Intestinal Cancer Treated?
After you’re diagnosed with intestinal cancer, your doctor will be able to help you determine the best possible treatment. Options might include:
- Targeted drug therapy