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Can Small Intestine Cancer (Adenocarcinoma) Be Found Early?

(Note: This information is about small intestine cancers called adenocarcinomas. To learn about other types of cancer that can start in the small intestine, see Gastrointestinal Carcinoid Tumors, Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumors, or Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma.)

Screening is testing for diseases like cancer in people who do not have any symptoms. Screening tests can find some types of cancer early, when treatment is most likely to be effective. But small intestine adenocarcinomas are rare, and no effective screening tests have been found for these cancers, so routine testing for people without any symptoms is not recommended.

For people at high risk 

For people with certain inherited genetic syndromes who are at increased risk of small intestine cancer, doctors might recommend regular tests to look for cancer early, especially in the duodenum (the first part of the small intestine). Tests that might be done include upper endoscopy (in which a long tube with a tiny video camera on the end is passed down the throat, through the stomach, and into the duodenum), CT scans, and endoscopic ultrasound (EUS). See Tests for Small Intestine Cancer (Adenocarcinoma) to learn more about these tests.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team

Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as editors and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Chamberlain RS, Krishnaraj M, Shah SA. Chapter 54: Cancer of the Small Bowel. In: DeVita VT, Lawrence TS, Rosenberg SA, eds. DeVita, Hellman, and Rosenberg’s Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. 10th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2015.

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.

Overman MJ, Kunitake H. Epidemiology, clinical features, and types of small bowel neoplasms. UpToDate. Accessed at on January 4, 2018.

Skipworth JRA, Morkane C, Raptis DA, et al. Pancreaticoduodenectomy for advanced duodenal and ampullary adenomatosis in familial adenomatous polyposis. HPB (Oxford). 2011;13(5):342-349.

Last Revised: February 8, 2018

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