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Duodenal/Small Bowel Cancer

Less invasive approaches even for rare cancers such as small bowel cancer.

Surgeons Dr. Alexander Rosemurgy and Dr. Sharona Ross at the Digestive Health Institute offer minimally invasive surgery to treat a number of digestive cancers, including small bowel and duodenal cancer. Small bowel cancer is cancer in the small intestine, and it is very rare. When it does occur, it is most commonly an adenocarcinoma that appears in the duodenum, or the first foot of the small intestine. The duodenum is where bile from the gallbladder and insulin from the pancreas enter the small intestine to aid in digestion. Duodenal cancer often behaves a lot like pancreatic cancer does, so treatment is often similar.

Small Bowel Cancer Symptoms

The symptoms of a small bowel cancer are often very similar to other digestive cancers and conditions.

Small bowel cancer symptoms can include:

  • Abdominal pain, especially pain that starts or gets worse after eating
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Jaundice, or yellowing of the skin and eyes
  • Dark-colored stools
  • Anemia, or low red blood cell count
  • Feeling weak and tired
  • Obstructed bowel if tumor grows large enough

Diagnosis of Small Bowel Cancer

Because small bowel cancer is so rare and the symptoms are similar to other digestive conditions, your doctor will likely first suspect another condition. However, the tests he or she will order for you will be similar to those needed to diagnose small bowel cancer.

Tests for small bowel cancer may include:

  • Blood work
  • Imaging tests such as a barium X-ray tests, a CT scan and/or MRI scan
  • An upper endoscopy procedure that can see into the duodenum, or first part of the small intestine
  • A capsule endoscopy or small bowel enteroscopy to look deeper into the small intestine for tumors there
  • Collecting tissue samples for biopsy, which could be by endoscopy, CT-guided needle biopsy or even minimally invasive, exploratory surgery. These samples are studied under a microscope by a pathologist, who determines if they are cancerous.

Surgical Treatments for Small Bowel/Duodenal Cancer at AdventHealth Tampa

Surgery is often the first line of treatment for small bowel cancers, and it is the only treatment to date that can cure a small bowel cancer.

At DHI, surgery for small bowel cancers can often be done as a minimally invasive procedure that takes one of three forms:

Minimally Invasive Pancreaticoduodenectomy (Whipple procedure)
Cancers of the duodenum are treated with a pancreaticoduodenectomy, more commonly known as a Whipple procedure. This same surgical procedure is used to treat many pancreatic cancers. The Whipple procedure is a very complex surgery. In addition to removing the duodenum, gallbladder and nearby lymph nodes, it involves resecting parts of the pancreas and stomach. The advanced gastrointestinal surgeons at DHI are very experienced in performing the Whipple procedure, and they offer it as a minimally invasive surgery whenever possible.

Segmental Resection
Small bowel cancers in the lower part of the small intestine can often be treated with segmental resection. This surgery involves removing the portion of the intestine with the tumor. Then, the two ends of the remaining intestine are reattached. Whenever possible, DHI surgeons offer segmental resection as a minimally invasive surgery. If removing the cancer also involves the colon, then Dr. Rosemurgy and Dr. Ross can draw upon the experience of the DHI colon and rectal surgeons Dr. Allen Chudzinski and Dr. Haane Massarotti to provide seamless care for our patients.

Palliative Surgery
For small bowel cancers that cannot be surgically removed because they are at an advanced stage, DHI offers procedures that can help relieve a patient’s pain or symptoms. While these procedures will not cure the cancer, they can help unblock the intestine so the patient can function as normally as possible.



At DHI, we know that after being diagnosed with cancer, patients want and often need to begin treatment quickly. So we make it a priority to offer appointments for cancer surgery consultations within 5 business days, and often earlier. Our surgeons will make themselves available to see you right away, even for a second opinion.

Patients who are newly diagnosed with cancer, or have just found out they have cancer recurrence, qualify for this priority access. Our surgeons will make themselves available to see you right away, even for a second opinion. We want to help you start your treatment as soon as possible.

If you have been diagnosed with a cancer of the digestive system, don’t wait.
Call the Digestive Health Institute at (813) 615-7440.

Learn more about our Surgical Cancer Care program.

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