Small bowel cancer is an uncommon type of cancer that occurs in the small intestine. Your small intestine, which is also called the small bowel, is a long tube that carries digested food between your stomach and your large intestine (colon).
Types of small bowel cancer include:
- Sarcoma, including gastrointestinal stromal tumor
- Carcinoid tumors
What treatment options are best for you depend on the type of small bowel cancer you have and its stage.
Small bowel cancers are difficult to diagnose. For this reason, people suspected of having small bowel cancer often undergo multiple tests and procedures to locate the cancer or rule out a cancer.
Imaging tests use machines to create pictures of the body in order to look for signs of small bowel cancer. Imaging tests used to diagnose small bowel cancer include:
- Computerized tomography (CT) scan
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- Positron emission tomography (PET)
- X-rays of the upper digestive system and small bowel after drinking a solution containing barium (upper GI series with small bowel follow-through)
TESTS TO SEE INSIDE YOUR SMALL INTESTINE
Endoscopic tests involve placing a camera inside your small intestine so that we can examine the inside walls. Endoscopic tests may include:
- Upper endoscopy
- Capsule endoscopy
- Single-balloon enteroscopy
- Double-balloon enteroscopy
Endoscopic tests, other than the capsule endoscopy, allow doctors to pass special tools into the small intestine to remove tissue samples for testing.
Sometimes small bowel cancers are located in places that make them very difficult to see with other tests. In these cases, we may recommend surgery to examine your small intestine and the surrounding area for signs of cancer.
Surgery can involve one large incision in your abdomen (laparotomy) or it can involve several small incisions (laparoscopy).
During laparoscopy, your surgeon passes special surgical tools through the incisions, as well as a video camera. The camera allows the surgeon to guide the tools and see inside your abdomen.