Chemotherapy (chemo) uses drugs to kill cancer cells. Often, these drugs are injected into a vein (IV) or given by mouth. They enter the bloodstream and can reach cancer cells anywhere in the body.
Unfortunately, small intestine adenocarcinoma does not seem to be very sensitive to chemo, so it is not often part of the main treatment for this cancer. Still, it may be used in some situations:
Some of the chemo drugs that can be used include:
5-FU is often given with a vitamin-like drug called leucovorin, which helps it work better.
Because small intestine cancer is rare, it has been hard to study which chemo drugs work best. Some of the drug combinations that seem to work in advanced small intestine cancer include:
Chemo drugs kill cancer cells but also damage some normal cells, which can lead to side effects. These depend on the type and dose of drugs, and the length of treatment. Common short-term side effects might include:
Chemo can also damage the blood-making cells of the bone marrow, so you may have low blood cell counts. This can lead to:
Along with these, some other side effects can be seen with certain medicines, for example:
Most side effects tend to go away after treatment is finished. But some, such as hand and foot numbness, might last for a long time. Talk to you cancer care team about any side effects you have, because there are often ways to lessen chemo side effects. For example, drugs can be given to help prevent or reduce nausea and vomiting.
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Cusack JC, Overman MJ. Treatment of small bowel neoplasms. UpToDate. Accessed at www.uptodate.com/contents/treatment-of-small-bowel-neoplasms on January 18, 2018.
Doyon L, Greenstein A, Greenstein A. Chapter 76: Cancer of the Small Bowel. In: Niederhuber JE, Armitage JO, Doroshow JH, Kastan MB, Tepper JE, eds. Abeloff’s Clinical Oncology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier; 2014.
National Cancer Institute. Physician Data Query (PDQ). Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumors Treatment. 2017. Accessed at www.cancer.gov/types/small-intestine/patient/small-intestine-treatment-pdq on January 18, 2018.
Last Revised: February 8, 2018