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Surgery for intestinal cancer

surgical oncology

What is surgery?

Surgery is used to diagnose, stage and treat cancer, and to manage certain cancer-related symptoms. At Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA), our experienced surgeons have performed thousands of procedures and will discuss the surgical options that are best suited to your individual needs.

Whether a patient is a candidate for surgery or not depends on factors such as the type, size, location, grade and stage of the tumor, as well as general health factors such as age, physical fitness and other coexisting medical conditions the patient may have.

For many patients, surgery will be combined with other cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy or hormone therapy. These nonsurgical treatments may be administered before surgery (neoadjuvant therapy) or after surgery (adjuvant therapy) to help prevent cancer growth, spread or recurrence.

Early in the treatment planning process, we plan for and proactively manage anticipated side effects from surgery. Our nutritionists, rehabilitation therapists and naturopathic clinicians work together with your surgical oncologist to support healing and quality of life. Our reconstructive surgeons perform procedures to restore the body's appearance and function when needed, at the time of surgery or following surgery.

Surgical oncology

Video: Surgical Oncology

Surgical Oncology

Surgery for intestinal cancer

Surgery is the most common treatment for intestinal cancer. At CTCA, experienced surgical oncologists perform surgery to remove tumors and the cancerous portion of the small intestine. In some cases, the following procedures may also be appropriate:

  • Whipple procedure: Although most often performed as a treatment for pancreatic cancer, this complex surgical procedure is also used to treat cancer in the duodenum (the upper portion of the small intestine). The duodenum is where most small intestine cancers develop.

  • For the Whipple procedure, the duodenum and part of the pancreas are removed, in addition to the gallbladder, a portion of the stomach, the end of the common bile duct and nearby lymph nodes. Then, the remaining portions of the pancreas, small intestine and bile duct are connected. This allows bile from the liver to continue to drain into the small intestine and enables digestion.

    The treatment for intestinal cancer does have potential risks for complications. Patients should seek treatment from surgical oncologists who are experienced in performing this procedure. Surgical oncologists at CTCA are highly skilled and have performed many of these procedures.

  • Palliative procedures: In advanced cases of small intestine cancer, surgery to remove the cancer may not be an option because the disease is too widespread. To relieve symptoms such as pain and nausea caused because a tumor is blocking the small intestine, palliative surgery may be performed to help patients feel more comfortable.

  • For example, if a tumor blocks a passage in the small intestine, surgery can be performed to insert a small tube that bypasses the tumor, creating an opening from the stomach to the other end of the small intestine or to the large intestine. This enables you to continue to eat by normal means and digest food.

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