Cancer Of The Duodenum: Types, Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment
Duodenal cancer is a condition where tumors form in the duodenum, which is the first part of the small intestine. The duodenum mixes food with bile and enzymes to aid in digestion.
Duodenal cancer is one of the rarest types of cancer affecting the gastrointestinal tract. Because it is so rare, there is not a great deal of information available, so cancer specialists have a difficult time determining the best course of treatment.
Types of Duodenal Cancer
There are five main types of duodenal cancer:
- Adenocarcinoma (glandular)
- Sarcoma (connective tissue, including fat, bone and muscle)
- Carcinoid tumors (neuroendocrine)
- Gastrointestinal stromal tumor
Duodenal Cancer Symptoms
Tumors most commonly develop in two areas where bile enters the small intestine, known as periampullary and the ampullary portions of the duodenum. Duodenal tumors can prevent food from moving from the stomach into the small intestine, causing a blockage of the gastrointestinal tract. Blockages may present the first symptoms of duodenal cancer, which can include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Mass in the abdomen
- Cramping pain
- Acid reflux
- Unexplained or unintentional weight loss
- Blood in the stool
It is important to note that duodenal cancer may not present any symptoms until the tumor or tumors are at a late stage and large enough to block food’s entry into the intestine.
Causes and Risk Factors
Researchers are still working to determine the causes and risk factors for duodenal cancer but many cancer doctors believe that certain conditions and lifestyle choices may increase the risk for duodenal cancer. Possible risk factors include:
- A diet rich in fat but low in nutrients
- Exposure to carcinogens, especially in the form of viruses, radiation and chemicals
- Chronic smoking
- A history of gastrointestinal conditions, such as Celiac disease, Lynche syndrome, Gardner syndrome, Crohn’s disease, familial adenomatous polyposis, juvenile polyposis syndrome, and Puetz-Jeghers disease
Diagnosis of Duodenal Cancer
Because duodenal cancer does not present any symptoms until the tumor is large enough to cause a blockage, it is difficult for doctors to diagnose the condition at an early stage, when treatment is likely to be most effective. Some types of diagnostic testing, such as CT scans, MRI, endoscopy, biopsy and barium swallow, can help doctors detect and diagnose duodenal cancer.
Duodenal Cancer Treatment
Since it is so rare, there are not many patients with duodenal cancer for scientists to study. This means there is very little information to help doctors treat duodenal cancer. Currently, doctors use treatments that work on similar types of tumors to treat duodenal cancer.
After detecting and diagnosing duodenal cancer, the doctor will determine the stage of the disease; there are four stages of duodenal cancer:
- Stage I: The tumor is located only in the duodenum
- Stage II: The cancer has spread to nearby tissues and lymph nodes
- Stage III: The tumors have spread to nearby organs in the digestive tract, including the stomach, ileum, jejunum and colon.
- Stage IV: Widespread cancer in the abdominal cavity and in distant organs outside the digestive tract.
As duodenal cancer progresses through the various stages, it becomes increasingly difficult to locate, contain and treat. Surgery is the most common and effective treatment option. Chemotherapy and radiation may accompany surgery. Herbal and nontraditional treatments exist but there is little research as to the effectiveness of these alternative treatments.
Do Not Delay — Schedule a Consultation and Begin Treatment
Treatment is most effective when administered early, before the cancer causes major intestinal blockages or progresses to a later stage. Cancer therapy focuses on eliminating factors that increase the risk for developing cancer and fighting tumors at all stages of development. All therapies should be unique and reflective of the type, cause and stage of cancer. The optimal duodenal cancer treatment plan, like that offered by Natural Horizons Wellness Centers, uses a multi-pronged approach that eliminates the significant underlying causes of cancer and helps the body heal itself. Natural Horizons is one of the premier alternative cancer treatment centers on the East Coast. Our holistic approach to cancer treatment begins with a comprehensive health evaluation. Our staff of highly trained medical professionals will assess the various factors affecting every system in the body and create a personalized alternative cancer therapy that is best for each patient.