Treatments for small intestine cancer

Your healthcare team will create a treatment plan just for you. The plan is based on your health and specific information about the cancer. What you want is also important when planning treatment. When deciding which treatments to offer for small intestine cancer, your healthcare team will consider:

  • the stage of the cancer

  • the location of the cancer
  • risk group
  • possible side effects
  • your age
  • your overall health and functional status (how well you can perform daily tasks)
  • your nutrition status (how well your body's nutritional needs are being met)
  • any medical problems you have
  • your lifestyle and what you prefer or want

The following information is about small intestine adenocarcinoma. Talk to your healthcare team about treatment options for other cancerous tumours of the small intestine.

Surgery and chemotherapy are the main treatments for small intestine adenocarcinoma. Radiation therapy, targeted therapy and immunotherapy are also treatment options for some people.

Expert review and references

  • Shahid Ahmed , MD, FRCPC, PhD, FACP
  • Raghav K, Katz MHG, Overman MJ . Cancers of the small bowel. Raghavan D, Blanke CD, Honson DH, et al (eds.). Textbook of Uncommon Cancer. 4th ed. Wiley Blackwell; 2012: 31: 441-464.
  • American Cancer Society . Treating Small Intestine Cancer (Adenocarcinoma) . 2018 :
  • American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) . Small Bowel Cancer Types of Treatment . 2021 :
  • PDQ Adult Treatment Editorial Board. Small Intestine Cancer Treatment (PDQ®) – Patient Version . Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute; 2021:
  • Somasundar P. Medscape Reference: Malignant Neoplasms of the Small Intestine Treatment and Management. 2019:

Treatments for resectable small intestine cancer

Surgery is the main treatment for small intestine adenocarcinoma that can be completely removed. Chemotherapy may also be used.

Treatments for unresectable small intestine cancer

Chemotherapy is the primary treatment for unresectable small intestine adenocarcinoma. Surgery and radiation may also be offered. In certain cases, targeted therapy or immunotherapy may be offered.

Treatments for recurrent small intestine cancer

There is no standard treatment for recurrent small intestine adenocarcinoma. Chemotherapy, targeted therapy, immunotherapy, radiation therapy or surgery may be used.

Surgery for small intestine cancer

Surgery is often offered for small intestine adenocarcinoma. The type of surgery depends mainly on where the tumour is in the small intestine and if it can be completely removed.

Chemotherapy for small intestine cancer

Chemotherapy uses anticancer drugs to destroy cancer cells. Small intestine adenocarcinoma is sometimes treated with chemotherapy.

Radiation therapy for small intestine cancer

Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays or particles to destroy cancer cells. It is sometimes used to treat small intestine adenocarcinoma.

Targeted therapy for small intestine cancer

Targeted therapy uses drugs to target specific molecules on cancer cells. Metastatic small intestine adenocarcinoma is sometimes treated with targeted therapy.

Immunotherapy for small intestine cancer

Small intestine adenocarcinoma is sometimes treated with immunotherapy. It helps strengthen the immune system to fight cancer.

Follow-up after treatment for small intestine cancer

Follow-up is an important part of care for small intestine adenocarcinoma. It often involves regular tests and visits with the healthcare team.

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.

We do our best to make sure that the information we provide is accurate and reliable but cannot guarantee that it is error-free or complete.

The Canadian Cancer Society is not responsible for the quality of the information or services provided by other organizations and mentioned on, nor do we endorse any service, product, treatment or therapy.

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