Small Intestine Cancer Symptoms
The small intestine is the part of the digestive tract that connects the stomach with the large intestine. Its interior is covered by various cells that are responsible for both the secretion of substances necessary for digestion as well as the absorption of nutrients. When some of these cells become malignant, they lose control mechanisms that allow them to reproduce and die normally.This is called’’small intestine cancer’’.In this article, you will learn what small intestine cancer symptoms are.
It is possible to say, that the majority of tumors that occur in the small intestine between 75% and 90% are benign. Most of the time these tumors do not produce symptoms and if they occur they are usually due to intestinal obstruction or chronic bleeding. They are generally not treated unless they produce significant bleeding that can lead to anemia, in which case they will be removed surgically.
How Small Intestine Cancer Cells Are Produced?
Malignant tumors of the small intestine may be of different kinds depending on the type of cells from which they occur.
Adenocarcinomas are derived from intestinal cells which are capable of secreting substances and these are most frequent malignant small bowel tumors. They occur mainly at the level of the final part of the duodenum and the initial part of the jejunum and more frequently in people who present with intestinal polyps. ntestinal lymphomas are usually of the non-Hodgkin type. They are usually localized in unique location but occasionally present as diffuse tumors along the small intestine of the ileum. It is often aggressive tumors that easily invade structures adjacent to the intestine. Its incidence is greater in people affected by celiac disease.
Sarcomas are rare tumors of the small intestine and appear mainly in jejunum and ileum.
It is possible to emphasize a type of intestinal tumors that are the carcinoid tumors. These tumors originate from cells with hormonal secretion capacity that exist in the intestinal wall, so that they don’t only produce digestive symptoms but also other derivatives of hormonal production, mainly serotonin. They can be seen in the appendix and rectum, but those that occur in the small intestine are more often in the ileum than in the jejunum or duodenum.They are more aggressive and tend to have hepatic metastases.
Small Intestine Cancer Symptoms
Most small bowel tumors give symptoms because of the obstruction of the digestive tract they cause, so they can cause chronic intestinal pains that are difficult to control, alterations in the intestinal transit and sometimes intestinal occlusion. They can ulcerate and bleed which can lead to chronic bleeding anemia. They can sometimes cause nausea and vomiting.
Diffuse intestinal lymphomas can rise to episodes of fever, altered intestinal absorption, weight loss and severe asthenia.
Carcinoid tumors, in addition to the possible intestinal obstruction that they can cause due to their size, they are characterized by marked asthenia and by symptoms derived from hormonal secretion. The serotonin produced by these tumors cause an increase in intestinal secretion, an increase in peristalsis, a decrease in absorption and an increase in fibrosis. This fibrosis usually affects the bowel and especially the right heart valves (pulmonary and tricuspid) which can lead to heart failure, sudden episodes of hypotension (which are usually triggered by stress, alcohol or certain foods), telangiectasias and wheezing.
Small Intestine Cancer Diagnosis
An intestinal tumor should be suspected in a patient with long-standing symptoms of intestinal obstruction, intestinal pain, asthenia, or dark stools. In addition to a physical examination, the blood test will determine if there is anemia. A test may also be done to detect occult blood in stool.
The difficulty in diagnosing these tumors that their location is not easily accessible. Imaging tests such as barium contrast x-ray or computed tomography (CT) may not always produce good results. Endoscopy will allow you to see the tumors as long as they are in an accessible area of the small intestine. Today, thanks to the endoscopic capsule, it is easier to obtain images from inaccessible areas.
A carcinoid tumor will be suspected when the patient presents digestive tract symptoms compatible with a small bowel tumor, facial flushing or symptoms arising from cardiac valvular involvement as described above. A serotonin derivative can be determined in the urine will be very high, if there is a carcinoid tumor. Also, plasma serotonin levels may be elevated as well.
80% of carcinoid tumors have receptors on their cells for a substance, somatostatin. If a scintigraphy is performed on which a radiolabeled somatostatin analogue is used, it will be seen how these tumors capture the substance.
Small Intestine Cancer Treatment
The main therapeutic option for small bowel tumors is surgery. In general, an extensive resection is attempted and the lymph nodes in the affected area are removed.
If the tumor can not be removed or has spread, palliative surgeries such as intestinal shunts and isolations of the affected intestinal segment may be chosen to avoid recurrent episodes of intestinal occlusion.
In the case of lymphomas, chemotherapy or radiation therapy is usually associated with surgical resection.
Carcinoid tumors that present symptoms derived from hormonal secretion have already metastasized, mainly liver, so surgical resection is not recommended unless they are unique or very localized. Chemotherapy is usually associated with treatment, although they are not very sensitive to it.
In case of not being able to operate, the symptoms produced by the carcinoid tumors will be controlled by octreotide, loperamide, antihistamines, bronchodilators or corticoids.
There are no specific preventive measures for small bowel tumors. At the most, if you present chronic digestive symptoms, it is advisable to go to the digestologist as soon as possible.