Small Intestine Cancer - Diagnosis & Treatment

How is small intestine cancer diagnosed?

Your doctor will first speak to you about your symptoms and medical history, and conduct a physical examination. If cancer is suspected, your doctor will likely recommend several tests to check if cancer is present.

Diagnostic tests include:

  • Endoscopy to check your stomach and small intestine for signs of cancer
  • Imaging scans such as computed tomography (CT) to check for obstructions in the small intestine or X-ray with barium to provide a clear image of the upper gastrointestinal tract
  • Biopsy to extract and examine cell samples for cancer
  • Blood tests to check for anaemia, low red blood cells or abnormalities in the blood
  • Ultrasound to see if your lymph nodes are enlarged or to check if the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes

How is small intestine cancer treated?

Your doctor will determine the most appropriate treatment for you based on the state of the cancer and whether it has spread. This may include more than one type of treatment.

Treatment options include:

  • Surgery. Small intestine cancer is usually treated using one of several surgical options. These include resection to remove the tumour completely or the Whipple procedure for more advanced cancer, which removes the head of the pancreas, duodenum, gallbladder and bile duct. Surgery may also help to relieve symptoms such as pain.
  • Chemotherapy. Using strong medications to kill cancer cells, chemotherapy may also be recommended as a treatment if surgery is not an option.
  • Radiotherapy. This treatment directs high-energy beams at the cancer to shrink or destroy the tumour.
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