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Small-Intestine Tumors That Are Noncancerous

By

Minhhuyen Nguyen

, MD, Fox Chase Cancer Center, Temple University

Last full review/revision Mar 2021| Content last modified Mar 2021
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Topic Resources

Most tumors of the small intestine are noncancerous (benign). These include tumors of fat cells (lipomas), nerve cells (neurofibromas), connective tissue cells (fibromas), and muscle cells (leiomyomas).

Diagnosis

  • Enteroclysis

  • Endoscopy

  • Video capsule endoscopy

Doctors typically do enteroclysis. In this procedure, a large amount of barium liquid is inserted through a tube in the nose and x-rays are taken as the barium moves through the digestive tract. Sometimes this procedure is done with a computed tomography Computed Tomography and Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the Digestive Tract Computed tomography (CT—see also Computed Tomography (CT)) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI—see also Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)) scans are good tools for assessing the size and location... read more (CT) scan instead of plain x-rays, in which case the person can just drink the barium rather than having a tube put through their nose.

A doctor may use an endoscope (a flexible viewing tube—see Endoscopy Endoscopy Endoscopy is an examination of internal structures using a flexible viewing tube (endoscope). Endoscopy can also be used to treat many disorders because doctors are able to pass instruments... read more ) passed through the mouth and down to the duodenum and part of the jejunum (the upper and middle sections of the small intestine) to locate the tumor and do a biopsy (remove a tissue sample for examination under a microscope). A doctor can sometimes see tumors of the ileum (the lower section of the small intestine) by passing a colonoscope (an endoscope used to view the lower part of the digestive tract) through the anus, through the entire large intestine, and up into the ileum.

Sometimes exploratory surgery is needed to identify a tumor in the small intestine.

Treatment

  • Various removal methods

Small noncancerous growths may be destroyed by treatments applied through a flexible viewing tube (endoscope—see Endoscopy Endoscopy Endoscopy is an examination of internal structures using a flexible viewing tube (endoscope). Endoscopy can also be used to treat many disorders because doctors are able to pass instruments... read more ) inserted into the intestine. These treatments include applying an electrical current (electrocautery) or heat (thermal obliteration) directly to the growth and directing a high-energy beam of light at the growth (laser phototherapy).

For large growths, surgery may be needed.

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