Intestinal Cancer Information
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What Is Intestinal Cancer?
Intestinal cancer is the presence of cancerous cells in the small or large intestines. The intestines are part of the body's gastrointestinal (digestive) system. Cancer that develops in the large intestine (or large bowel) is called colorectal cancer. Small intestine cancer is a rare disease in which cancer cells grow in the small intestine (or small bowel). The National Cancer Institute estimates approximately 8,070 people in the United States will be diagnosed with small intestine cancer in 2012.
The longest section of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, the small intestine is a long, coiled tube that measures three and half times the length of the body. It connects the stomach to the large intestine. The small intestine digests and absorbs nutrients. It is divided into three sections: the duodenum, jejunum and ileum. Most types of small intestine cancer develop in the duodenum.
The ampulla of Vater, also called hepatopancreatic ampulla, is a region where the common bile duct and pancreatic duct open into the duodenum (the upper portion of the small intestine). Cancer of the ampulla of Vater is usually not considered an intestinal cancer. Rather, this type of intestinal cancer is treated like pancreatic cancer.
Types of Small Intestine Cancer
The main types of small intestine cancer include:
- Adenocarcinomas, the most common type of small intestine cancer, usually develop in the cells that line the walls of the small intestine. Often, this type of cancer will develop out of small benign (noncancerous) growths called polyps.
- Sarcoma is a type of intestinal cancer that develops in the connective tissue of the small intestine.
- Gastrointestinal stromal tumors are variants of soft tissue sarcoma.
- Carcinoid tumors form in the lining of the intestines and are often are slow growing.
- Lymphomas are an immune system disease that may originate within the intestines.
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