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Small intestine
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Treatment of adenocarcinoma of the small intestine

The following are treatment options for adenocarcinoma of the small intestine. The location and stage of the cancer will determine if it can be removed by surgery (resectable) or not (unresectable). Small intestine cancers are often diagnosed at a later stage. They have often spread locally or there are extensive metastases at diagnosis. The types of treatments given are based on the unique needs of the person with cancer.

Resectable adenocarcinoma

Resectable small intestine cancers can be completely removed by surgery.

Surgery

Surgery is the primary treatment for resectable adenocarcinomas of the small intestine. The types of surgical resections that may be done are:

Chemotherapy

Due to the small numbers of people with small intestine cancers, it is not yet known how well chemotherapy works or the best drugs to use. In some cases, chemotherapy may be offered following surgery (adjuvant chemotherapy), especially if the surgical margins contain cancer cells (are positive).

The most common chemotherapy drug used to treat small intestine adenocarcinoma is 5-fluorouracil (Adrucil, 5-FU), used alone or in combination with other drugs.

Unresectable adenocarcinoma

Unresectable small intestine cancers cannot be completely removed by surgery.

Surgery

Surgery may be offered for unresectable or advanced small intestine cancer. The type of surgery offered is usually a surgical bypass (palliative surgery).

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy may be offered for unresectable or advanced small intestine cancer (palliative chemotherapy). Due to the small numbers of people with small intestine cancers, not enough clinical trials have been done to know for sure if chemotherapy works for small intestine cancer.

The most common chemotherapy drug used to treat small intestine adenocarcinoma is 5-fluorouracil (Adrucil, 5-FU). It may be given alone or in combination with other drugs.

Radiation therapy

External beam radiation therapy may be offered to relieve pain or to control symptoms of advanced cancer (palliative radiation therapy). It may be used alone or in combination with chemotherapy.

Recurrent adenocarcinoma

Treatment of adenocarcinoma that has recurred depends on:

  • the location of the recurrence
  • the extent of recurrence
  • treatments the person already received

Surgery

Surgery may be offered to some people with recurrent small intestine cancer that has not spread (metastasize). The types of surgery that may be done are:

  • removal (resection) of the tumour
  • surgical bypass – if the tumour cannot be removed (is unresectable)

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy may be offered to some people with recurrent small intestine cancer.

Radiation therapy

External beam radiation therapy may be offered to people with locally recurrent small intestine cancer. It is sometimes given in combination with chemotherapy.

Clinical trials

People with small intestine cancer may be offered the opportunity to participate in clinical trials. For more information, go to clinical trials.

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