People with the following conditions may have a higher risk of developing small bowel cancer:
- Non-cancerous bowel conditions – these include Crohn’s disease, coeliac disease and Peutz-Jegher’s syndrome.
- People who have had colon cancer or rectal cancer.
- Lynch syndrome, also called hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC).
- Familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP).
Like all cancers, small bowel cancer is not infectious and cannot be passed on to other people.
If you are worried, we have more information about the signs and symptoms of small bowel cancer.
You may start by seeing your GP about symptoms such as:
- weight loss
Some people are admitted to hospital with more severe symptoms. These may be caused by a blockage or a tear in the bowel.
At the hospital, a specialist doctor will examine you and may arrange the following tests:
A sample of your stool (poo) is tested for blood.
If it is difficult to get a clear picture of the small bowel, you may have an operation to check for signs of cancer.
We have more information about waiting for test results that can help during what can be a difficult time.
A team of specialists will meet to discuss the best possible treatment for you. This is called a multidisciplinary team (MDT).
Your treatment plan may depend on a number of things, including:
- your general health
- the position and size of the cancer
- whether it has spread to other areas of the body.
Your doctor will explain the different treatments and their side effects. They will also talk to you about the things you should consider when making treatment decisions.
Your treatment may depend on the type of small bowel cancer you have. This information is mainly about the most common type, called adenocarcinoma. Other types, such as lymphoma may be treated differently.
Surgery is the main treatment for cancer of the small bowel.
You may also have chemotherapy, either in combination with radiotherapy (called chemoradiation) or surgery, or on its own. Doctors are still researching how effective chemotherapy is at treating small bowel cancer, so it is not always used.
You may have some treatments as part of a clinical trial.
Follow-up care after treatment for small bowel cancer
The aim of follow-up care is to make sure everything is going well and to find out if you have any concerns. The appointments are usually every few months in the first year.
We have more information on follow-up care after treatment.
Small bowel cancer and its treatment can sometimes affect your sex life. Your doctor or nurse can explain what to expect. There are often things that can help if you have problems.