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What is intestinal cancer?

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Quick Answer

Intestinal cancer is the development of cancerous cells in the large or small intestines that make up the body's digestive system, according to the Cancer Treatment Centers of America. Cancer within the large intestine is known as colorectal cancer. Small intestine cancer is more rare than colorectal cancer.

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Full Answer

When cancer develops in the small intestine, which is a long tube connecting the stomach and large intestine, patients may experience blood in the stool, a lump in the abdomen, abdominal pain and weight loss without reason, according to Medline Plus. Small intestine cancer is diagnosed by examining x-rays or through imaging tests.

In many cases, small intestine cancer and colorectal cancer begin with a polyp, a small outgrowth that is benign, explains the American Cancer Society. The polyp ultimately changes into cancer.

Cancerous cells within the small and large intestine are highly curable if diagnosed and treated in the early stages, according to WebMD. When a tumor grows in the small and large intestines, cancer can spread to lymph nodes, the bloodstream and organs by traveling through the bowel wall. Cancerous cells that spread may be more difficult to treat depending on the advancement of the disease.

The most common treatment is surgery to remove the cancerous cells within the intestines, explains the Cancer Treatment Centers of America. Additional treatment options include radiation therapy and chemotherapy.

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