Like tumors in other parts of the body, tumors of the small intestine may be benign or malignant. Most tumors are benign, without symptoms, and the patient usually does not know that he has a tumor until the presence is discovered during the medical examination or during the treatment of some other disorder or illness. However, in 10% of cases, tumors are malignant. In very rare cases, it is a carcinoid.
Malignant tumors in the small intestine can cause weight loss, symptoms of anemia – paleness, fatigue and heartburn – and, sometimes, blood in the stool.
Tumor of the small intestine is very rare, and out of those only 5% are tumors of digestive tract, although the small intestine is the longest part of that tract. If you have Crohn’s disease or celiac disease, the possibility of cancer development in the small intestine is slightly higher.
Any major enlargement can be dangerous because it can cause bowel obstruction. Of course, a malignant tumor is life-threatening if it is not discovered early and is not treated. Therefore, the main danger lies in ignoring the rather general symptoms of the cancerous tumors (of the small intestine) until it is too late for effective treatment.
What to do?
If you lose weight, feel the pain in the abdominal cavity, if you notice a change in the stool, and/or if the stool is dark, you should consult a doctor who will examine your stomach and probably refer you to a diagnostic scan. The X-ray examination with barium will detect any tumor, and endoscopic examination and biopsy will determine if it is a benign or malignant tumor.
Usually, the best solution is to remove the tumor with a surgery, even if it is only benign. Malignant tumors are sometimes too numerous or too widespread to be surgically removed so, in those cases, corticosteroid drugs and radiotherapy are used to keep the disease under control.