Small intestine

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Prognosis and survival for small intestine cancer

If you have small intestine cancer, you may have questions about your prognosis. A prognosis is the doctor’s best estimate of how cancer will affect a person and how it will respond to treatment. Prognosis and survival depend on many factors. Only a doctor familiar with your health history, the type, stage and characteristics of the cancer, the treatments chosen and the response to treatment can put all of this information together with survival statistics to arrive at a prognosis.

A prognostic factor is an aspect of the cancer or a characteristic of the person that the doctor will consider when making a prognosis. The following are prognostic factors for small intestine cancer.


The stage is the most important prognostic factor for small intestine cancer. The lower the stage at diagnosis, the better the prognosis. Tumours that are only in the small intestine have a more favourable prognosis than those that have grown through the wall of the small intestine, have spread to lymph nodes or have spread to other organs farther from the small intestine (called distant metastases).

What is removed with surgery

Tumours that can be completely removed with surgery have a better prognosis than tumours that can’t be completely removed.

If 8 or more lymph nodes are surgically removed, there is less risk that the cancer will recur than if 7 or fewer lymph nodes are removed. So people who have 8 or more lymph nodes removed have a better prognosis.

Type of tumour

The prognosis is different for different types of small intestine cancer. In general, the types of small intestine cancer with the most favourable to least favourable prognosis are:

  • neuroendocrine tumours (NETs)
  • lymphoma (follicular lymphoma has the best prognosis of all small intestine lymphomas)
  • gastrointestinal stromal tumours (GISTs)
  • soft tissue sarcoma
  • adenocarcinoma