Small Intestine Cancer - These Are The Symptoms!


The symptoms of small bowel cancer are often unspecific at the beginning and only become more specific as the tumor spreads. The symptoms include:

  • stomach pain

  • Back pain

  • Nausea and possibly vomiting

  • diarrhea

  • constipation

  • Blood in the stool

  • Mucus in the stool


Mucus in the stool

Often there are changes in bowel movements as part of small bowel cancer. This can manifest itself with an admixture of mucus. Often it is tough yellowish and very sticky mucus. The reason for this lies in the change in the wall of the small intestine caused by the cancer. The tumor attacks the mucous membrane of the small intestine, it can become detached and the food can no longer be properly digested. This then shows up in the stool in the form of accumulations of mucus.

Are you interested in this topic? You can read more about this in our next article: Slimy stool


In small bowel cancer, as the disease progresses, stool irregularities, constipation and, in the late stages, complete stool retention. Because cancer is a multiplying mass of tissue that spreads, depending on where it is located, it can compress parts of the small intestine. As a result, the lumen in which the food is located becomes smaller and smaller. It is becoming increasingly difficult for the intestine to transport the food, which, depending on the severity of the small intestinal cancer, can also manifest itself as constipation.

Read more on the topic: constipation


Small bowel cancer causes a wide variety of digestive disorders. Depending on the spread, localization and accumulation of the cancerous changes in the abdomen, diarrhea can occur as early as the onset of cancer development. The reason for this lies in the change in the mucous membrane of the small intestine. Food is no longer ingested normally, only parts of it, which changes the composition of the stool. Later on, diarrhea can also occur as a sign of passage problems.

For more information, see: diarrhea


With the spread of small bowel cancer, food can no longer properly pass through the bowel. As a result, a constriction in the small intestine caused by the tumor leads to a backlog of food. With continued regular food intake, this leads to an increasing accumulation of food in the gastrointestinal tract and can lead to nausea after a while. This mainly occurs immediately after eating.

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If, in the context of small bowel cancer, a narrowing of a section of the intestine leads to an increasing congestion of food directly in front of the constriction, this leads to the backlog of food. Depending on the severity and localization of the intestinal narrowing, this can lead to vomiting sooner or later. This can be a direct result of the nausea that often occurs after eating. Depending on the backlog of the food, an involuntary reflux (i.e. reflux) of the ingested food can occur at a certain level.

You might also be interested in: Causes of Vomiting


Small bowel cancer often leads to pain of various degrees. These occur as a result of direct irritation of the nerves and therefore often only appear later in the course of the cancer spread. Depending on the severity and localization, the pain can be felt in the entire abdominal area or only parts of it. If a structure in the abdomen is directly crushed by the tumor, the pain can be very acute and sharp. If, on the other hand, slowly progressing nerve irritation occurs, the pain is often perceived as unspecific and dull.

Back pain

Small bowel cancer can cause different pain depending on the location and extent of the tumorous changes. If parts of the small intestine that are in close proximity to the spine or the back are affected, the cancer of the small intestine can manifest itself in the form of back pain. Another cause of back pain as a symptom of small bowel cancer are metastases, which in more advanced stages can also be found in the back area and can lead to pain.

In the case of back pain, it is important to remember that other causes may also come into question, depending on the character and location. If the pain in the back radiates in a belt shape in the area of ​​the upper abdomen, this speaks more for a disease of the pancreas, for example. In any case, the pain should be clarified by a doctor.

Further information on this topic can be found at: Back pain

The end stage can be recognized by these symptoms

In the end stage of small bowel cancer, bowel obstruction usually occurs. As a result, no more passage of the food can take place. This manifests itself in severe colicky stomach pain, vomiting and flatulence. Further symptoms are an increased accumulation of gas in the intestine immediately before the closure, which can be easily recognized, for example, in an X-ray. Due to the lack of passage of food, there is no stool and the digested food accumulates in front of the occlusion point in the intestine.

If there is a suspicion of an intestinal obstruction, this must be treated surgically as soon as possible, otherwise there is a risk of a life-threatening rupture of the intestine with emptying of the intestinal contents into the abdominal cavity. The latter leads to inflammation of the abdominal cavity within a relatively short time (Peritonitis) and blood poisoning (sepsis).

Read more on the topic: End-stage colon cancer