Canadian Cancer Society logo

Small intestine

You are here: 

Radiation therapy for small intestine cancer

Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays or particles to destroy cancer cells. Radiation is not used very often as a main treatment for small intestine cancer. It may be used:

  • to relieve pain or to control the symptoms of advanced small intestine cancer (palliative radiation therapy)
  • to treat a recurrence
  • after surgery (in some cases) to destroy cancer cells left behind and to reduce the risk of the cancer recurring (adjuvantadjuvantTreatment given in addition to the first-line therapy (the first or standard treatment) to help reduce the risk of a disease (such as cancer) coming back (recurring). radiation therapy)

The amount of radiation given during treatment, and when and how it is given, will be different for each person.

External beam radiation therapy

Small intestine cancer is usually treated with external beam radiation therapy. A machine directs radiation to the tumour and some of the surrounding tissue.

Some types of small intestine cancer, such as lymphomas, are very responsive to radiation therapy even at low doses. External beam radiation therapy may be used to treat this type of tumour. However, radiation therapy is not commonly used for treating other types of small intestine cancer. The small intestine is very sensitive to radiation therapy and the side effects associated with this treatment limit its usefulness.

Palliative radiation therapy

Most often, radiation therapy is used to relieve pain or to control the symptoms of advanced small intestine cancer. It may be given to:

  • relieve symptoms of an obstruction
  • treat intestinal bleeding associated with a tumour
  • treat pain or other symptoms in areas where the small intestine cancer may have spread (metastasized), such as the bones or other parts of the body

See a list of questions to ask your doctor about radiation therapy.


Brock Taraba Brock has been cancer free for over a decade, thanks to the support we received from the Canadian Cancer Society.

Read Brock's story

Facing the financial burden of cancer

Illustration of coins

The Canadian Cancer Society provides helpful information about government income programs, financial resources and other resources available to families struggling to make sense of the personal financial burden they face.

Learn more