Symptoms and Signs of Cancer of the Small Intestine (Adenocarcinoma)

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Medically Reviewed on 3/11/2019

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.


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.