Small Intestine Cancer

At a Glance

  • Small intestine cancer is a rare disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the small intestine.
  • Estimated new cases and deaths from small intestine cancer in the United States in 2010 are 6,960 and 1,100 respectively.
  Anatomy The small intestine is part of the body’s digestive system. The digestive system removes and processes nutrients (vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, fats, proteins, and water) from foods and helps pass waste material out of the body. The small intestine is a long tube that connects the stomach to the large intestine. It folds many times to fit inside the abdomen.

Types of Small Intestine Cancer

There are five types of small intestine cancer. The types of cancer found in the small intestine are:
  • Adenocarcinoma
  • Sarcoma
  • Carcinoid tumors
  • Gastrointestinal stromal tumor
  • Lymphoma
Adenocarcinoma starts in glandular cells in the lining of the small intestine and is the most common type of small intestine cancer. Most of these tumors occur in the part of the small intestine near the stomach. They may grow and block the intestine. Leiomyosarcoma starts in the smooth muscle cells of the small intestine. Most of these tumors occur in the part of the small intestine near the large intestine.

Risk Factors

Anything that increases your risk of getting a disease is called a risk factor. Risk factors for small intestine cancer include the following:
  • Eating a high-fat diet.
  • Having Crohn disease.
  • Having celiac disease.
  • Having familial adenomatous polyposis


Possible signs of small intestine cancer include:
  • Pain or cramps in the middle of the abdomen.
  • Weight loss with no known reason.
  • A lump in the abdomen.
  • Blood in the stool.