The small bowel is also known as the small intestine. It is about fifteen feet in length and it forms a major part of the digestive tract. The small bowel is responsible for breaking down food and allowing the body to absorb the nutrients required by it. Small bowel cancer is rather rare and just two percent of cases have been reported in the US.
When it comes to diagnosing small bowel cancer, a battery of tests is performed which also helps the doctor to figure out whether the cancer has metastasized to other organs. The tests are also useful in identifying the kind of treatment that would be best suited for the cancer.
Usually a biopsy is done in order to get a positive diagnosis about the cancer. In case the biopsy cannot be done, then the doctor will recommend other kinds of tests to help getting a diagnosis. The doctor may order imaging tests to figure out whether the cancer has spread.
However, in order to select the right test for diagnosing small bowel cancer, the doctor will also take into account several other factors such as the person's age, his or her medical condition, the kind of cancer the doctor suspects, how severe the symptoms are and what were the results of the previous test, if any.
Thereafter, the doctor will recommend all or some of the following tests to diagnose the cancer:
Blood Test: This will be done to check for liver disease, which invariably occurs due to small bowel cancer. Here the doctor will look for certain proteins that are present in the blood. In addition, he will also look at the red blood cell count to determine whether internal bleeding is taking place.
Fecal Test: The feces will be tested to check for blood, which is invariably present in people who suffer from cancer of the small bowel.
X-ray: An X-ray will be ordered to locate the presence of the malignant tumor. Here the X-ray of the entire gastro-intestinal system will be taken after the person is give barium to drink.
Biopsy: A biopsy will be ordered to conclusively confirm the diagnosis of cancer of the small bowel.
Endoscopy: The person may have to undergo endoscopy so that the doctor can check out the insides of the gastro-intestinal system. Here the doctor will check the system for abnormal cell growth and then perform a biopsy of the affected tissue.
Colonoscopy: This is similar to endoscopy, but the tube for viewing the gastro-intestinal system is inserted into the body via the anus instead of the mouth.
CT scan: In this test, an image of the insides of the body is taken using a computed tomography scan, also known as CT scan. This is primarily used to check whether the malignancy has spread to other organs like the liver and lungs.
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