Doctor's Notes on Cancer of the Small Intestine (Adenocarcinoma)
Cancer of the small intestine means abnormal multiplying small intestinal cell types in the small bowel that form tumors and metastasize to other organs. The most common types are adenocarcinomas, lymphomas and carcinoids. Initial signs and symptoms are nonspecific such as abdominal discomfort associated with loss of appetite, bloating and nausea. As the cancer type progress, signs and symptoms can include fatigue, weight loss, blood loss (blood or coffee-grounds like material in vomit or stools and/or black, tarry stools), iron deficiency anemia, jaundice and bowel blockage (obstruction of the bowel lumen) resulting in severe nausea and vomiting (can be life-threatening).
The cause for the development of small intestinal cancer types is unclear; however, underlying conditions such as Crohn’s disease, gluten intolerance, familial polyposis syndromes, alcohol abuse, dietary choices (meats and fish - salted or smoked, heavy sugar intake), intestinal fistulas, surgical removal of a part of the bowel and lymphoma of the small intestine are risk factors.
Cancer of the Small Intestine (Adenocarcinoma) Symptoms
- Like most GI cancers, early symptoms of small bowel cancer tend to be vague and nonspecific. They may include abdominal discomfort associated with the following:
- The following symptoms may indicate advanced disease and should be signs to seek medical attention:
- Weight loss
- Iron deficiency anemia
- Visible blood loss:Blood or a material that looks like coffee grounds may be vomited, or black stools may be passed.
- Severe nausea and vomiting because of a blockage inthe small bowel by the enlarging cancer: Doctors frequently diagnose small intestine cancer during surgery for unexplained bowel obstruction.
- Jaundice (yellowish skin): This is a symptom in people with cancerthat involvesthe upper small intestine because of blockage of the bile ducts, which drain the liver, where they enter the small intestine.
A Malignancy of the Stomach
Gastric cancer, or stomach cancer, is a malignancy (unrestrained growth of abnormal tissue) of the lining of the stomach. Infection with the bacteria, Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori), is a common cause of this type of malignancy. Tumors called adenocarcinomas are the most common type of stomach cancers. A carcinoma is a cancer that arises from tissue that lines the internal organs or the epithelial layer of the skin. Other forms include lymphomas, carcinoid tumors, and gastrointestinal stromal tumors. Unfortunately, gastric cancer often does not have early symptoms and signs so it is often diagnosed late in the course of the disease.
Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.