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How does small intestine cancer affect the body?

As all cancers can, small intestine cancer can spread to other parts of your body through surrounding tissue, blood vessels, or the lymph system, a network of pathways designed to carry disease-fighting cells around your body. This process is called metastasis. You may experience different symptoms and effects depending on where a new (metastatic) tumor grows. If left untreated, cancer will continue to spread until you die. Treatment for small intestine cancer often includes surgery; all surgeries weaken the body for a time afterward and carry the risk of infection and scarring.

Dr. Jill K. Onesti, MD
Surgical Oncologist

Small intestine cancer typically affects the body by affecting your digestion of food. This may be in the form of a complete blockage, which would cause you to have abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and be unable to pass gas or stool. This is often considered an emergency and usually requires surgery to correct. If the blockage is incomplete, you may notice abdominal cramps whenever you eat. This can cause you to eat less to avoid feeling that pain, thereby losing weight.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.