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Follow-up after treatment for small intestine cancer

Small intestine cancer behaves differently in each person, and a standard follow-up schedule would not work for everyone. People with small intestine cancer should talk to their doctor about a follow-up plan that suits their individual situation. Follow-up care is often shared among the cancer specialists (oncologists) and the family doctor.

After treatment has ended, new symptoms and symptoms that don’t go away should be reported to the doctor without waiting for the next scheduled appointment. These may include:

  • abdominal pain
  • changes in bowel movements
  • weight loss
  • jaundicejaundiceA condition in which the skin and whites of the eyes become yellow and urine is dark yellow.

The chance of small intestine cancer recurring is greatest within 2 years after surgery, so close follow-up is needed during this time.


Follow-up after small intestine cancer treatment varies because it is tailored to the individual’s situation. Small intestine cancers frequently recur. After surgery to remove the cancer, follow-up visits may be scheduled every 3 months or less often depending on the person’s treatment and situation.


During a follow-up visit, the doctor usually asks questions about the side effects of treatment and how the person is coping. The doctor may do a complete physical examination, including feeling the abdomen for lumps, bloating or swelling and looking for jaundice.

Tests may be ordered as part of follow-up or if the doctor suspects the cancer has come back (has recurred).

  • blood tests
    • The doctor may order a complete blood count (CBC) on a regular basis to check for anemiaanemiaA reduction in the number of healthy red blood cells., which may suggest bleeding from a tumour.
    • Liver function tests may be done if symptoms suggest that the small intestine cancer has spread to the liver or is blocking the bile ducts.
  • tumour markers
    • The doctor may order tests to look for tumour markers, such as carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA), if the person has symptoms that suggest the cancer has come back.
  • endoscopy
    • An endoscopic procedure may be done if the doctor suspects a recurrence or a second cancer.
  • computed tomography (CT) scan
    • A CT scan of the abdomen may be done if symptoms suggest small intestine cancer has come back.

If a recurrence is found during follow-up, the oncology team will assess the person with cancer to determine the best treatment options.

See a list of questions to ask your doctor about follow-up after treatment.


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