Small bowel cancer care at Mayo Clinic

Mayo Clinic doctors have experience diagnosing and treating small bowel cancers, including carcinoid tumors and gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs). They use this experience to develop a personalized treatment plan that provides you with exactly the care you need.

Diagnosis at Mayo Clinic

Small bowel cancers are difficult to diagnose. For this reason, people suspected of having small bowel cancer often undergo multiple tests and procedures to locate the cancer or rule out a cancer.

Imaging tests

Imaging tests use machines to create pictures of the body in order to look for signs of small bowel cancer. Imaging tests used to diagnose small bowel cancer include:

  • Computerized tomography (CT) scan
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Positron emission tomography (PET)
  • X-rays of the upper digestive system and small bowel after drinking a solution containing barium (upper gastrointestinal series with small bowel follow-through)
  • Nuclear medicine scans, which use a small amount of radioactive tracer to enhance imaging tests

Tests to see inside your small intestine

Endoscopic tests involve placing a camera inside your small intestine so that your doctor can examine the inside walls. Endoscopic tests may include:

Endoscopic tests, other than the capsule endoscopy, allow doctors to pass special tools into the small intestine to remove tissue samples for testing.

Surgery

Sometimes small bowel cancers are located in places that make them very difficult to see with other tests. In these cases, your doctor may recommend surgery to examine your small intestine and the surrounding area for signs of cancer.

Surgery can involve one large incision in your abdomen (laparotomy) or it can involve several small incisions (laparoscopy).

During laparoscopy, your surgeon passes special surgical tools through the incisions, as well as a video camera. The camera allows the surgeon to guide the tools and see inside your abdomen.

Treatment at Mayo Clinic

Treatment for small bowel cancer depends on the type of cancer you have and its stage.

  • Surgery. Surgeons work to remove all of the small bowel cancer, when possible. If cancer affects a small portion of the small intestine, surgeons may remove only that section and rejoin the cut ends of the intestine. In some cases, all of the small intestine may need to be removed.

    If a small bowel cancer can't be removed, surgeons might perform a bypass to relieve a blockage in the small intestine.

  • Other treatments. Other small bowel cancer treatment options include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, biological therapy for cancer and clinical trials.

Expertise and rankings

Mayo Clinic doctors are widely respected for their experience diagnosing and treating uncommon conditions, including small bowel cancers.

Advanced diagnosis and treatment

Mayo Clinic doctors have access to the newest technology and treatments to improve chances for positive outcomes.

Mayo Clinic doctors will work with you to review all of your options and choose the treatment that best suits your needs and goals. The range of treatments offered to people with small bowel cancer includes chemotherapy, radiation therapy, biological therapy and many types of surgical procedures.

Nationally recognized expertise

Small bowel cancer is an uncommon type of cancer. Mayo Clinic doctors have experience treating many cases of small bowel cancer.

Mayo Clinic Cancer Center meets strict standards for a National Cancer Institute comprehensive cancer center, which recognizes scientific excellence and a multidisciplinary approach to cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment.

Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla., and Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Ariz., are ranked among the Best Hospitals for cancer by U.S. News & World Report. Mayo Clinic also ranks among the Best Children's Hospitals for cancer.

Locations, travel and lodging

Mayo Clinic has major campuses in Phoenix and Scottsdale, Arizona; Jacksonville, Florida; and Rochester, Minnesota. The Mayo Clinic Health System has dozens of locations in several states.

For more information on visiting Mayo Clinic, choose your location below:

Costs and insurance

Mayo Clinic works with hundreds of insurance companies and is an in-network provider for millions of people.

In most cases, Mayo Clinic doesn't require a physician referral. Some insurers require referrals, or may have additional requirements for certain medical care. All appointments are prioritized on the basis of medical need.

Learn more about appointments at Mayo Clinic.

Please contact your insurance company to verify medical coverage and to obtain any needed authorization prior to your visit. Often, your insurer's customer service number is printed on the back of your insurance card.

Aug. 23, 2017
References
  1. Cusack JC, et al. Epidemiology, clinical features and types of small bowel neoplasms. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Sept. 13, 2016.
  2. Cusack JC, et al. Treatment of small bowel neoplasms. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Sept. 13, 2016.
  3. Cusack JC, et al. Diagnosis and staging of small bowel neoplasms. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Sept. 14, 2016.