Prognosis and survival for small intestine cancer

If you have small intestine cancer, you may have questions about your prognosis. A prognosis is the doctor’s best estimate of how cancer will affect a person and how it will respond to treatment. Prognosis and survival depend on many factors. Only a doctor familiar with your health history, the type, stage and characteristics of the cancer, the treatments chosen and the response to treatment can put all of this information together with survival statistics to arrive at a prognosis.

A prognostic factor is an aspect of the cancer or a characteristic of the person that the doctor will consider when making a prognosis. The following are prognostic factors for small intestine cancer.


The stage is the most important prognostic factor for small intestine cancer. The lower the stage at diagnosis, the better the prognosis. Tumours that are only in the small intestine have a more favourable prognosis than those that have grown through the wall of the small intestine, have spread to lymph nodes or have spread to other organs farther from the small intestine (called distant metastases).

What is removed with surgery

Tumours that can be completely removed with surgery have a better prognosis than tumours that can’t be completely removed.

If 8 or more lymph nodes are surgically removed, there is less risk that the cancer will recur than if 7 or fewer lymph nodes are removed. So people who have 8 or more lymph nodes removed have a better prognosis.

Type of tumour

The prognosis is different for different types of small intestine cancer. In general, the types of small intestine cancer with the most favourable to least favourable prognosis are:

  • neuroendocrine tumours (NETs)
  • lymphoma (follicular lymphoma has the best prognosis of all small intestine lymphomas)
  • gastrointestinal stromal tumours (GISTs)
  • soft tissue sarcoma
  • adenocarcinoma

Expert review and references

  • Aparicio T, Zaanan A, Svrcek M, Laurent-Puig P, Carrere N, Manfredi S, Locher C, Afchain P . Small bowel adenocarcinoma: epidemiology, risk factors, diagnosis and treatment . Digestive and Liver Disease . 2014 .
  • Arber N, Moshkowitz M . Small intestinal cancers. Jankowiski J, Hawk E (eds.). Handbook of Gastrointestinal Cancer. Wiley-Blackwell; 2013: 4: 67-85.
  • Chamberlain RS, Mahendraraj K, Shah SA . Cancer of the small bowel . DeVita VT Jr, Lawrence TS, & Rosenberg SA . Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology . 10th ed. Philadelphia : Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins ; 2015 : 54: 734-744 .
  • Khan K, Peckitt C, Sclafani F, Watkins D, Rao S, Starling N, Jain V, et al . Prognostic factors and treatment outcomes in patients with Small Bowel Adenocarcinoma (SBA): The Royal Marsden Hospital (RMH) experience. BMC Cancer. 2015:
  • National Cancer Institute. Small Intestine Cancer Treatment (PDQ®) Health Professional Version. 2014:
  • Qubaiah O, Devesa SS, Platz CE, et al . Small intestinal cancer: a population-based study of incidence and survival patterns in the United States, 1992 to 2006. Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention. American Association for Cancer Research; 2010.

Survival statistics for small intestine cancer

Survival is different for each stage of small intestine cancer. Learn about small intestine cancer survival statistics by stage.

Medical disclaimer

The information that the Canadian Cancer Society provides does not replace your relationship with your doctor. The information is for your general use, so be sure to talk to a qualified healthcare professional before making medical decisions or if you have questions about your health.

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