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The small intestine is a part of the digestive tract, which plays a major role in digestion and absorption. The organ is located between the stomach and colon, and can be divided into three segments, the duodenum (9.8 in), jejunum (2.5 m) and ileum (3.5 m). A cancer that begins in the duodenum is known as duodenal cancer. In this article we will discuss causes and symptoms of this rare form of gastrointestinal cancer. Causes of Duodenal Cancer

Adenocarcinoma is the most common type of duodenal cancer. Other types of tumors that may develop in the duodenum are carcinoid and sarcomas.

Exact cause of duodenal cancer is unknown but there are certain factors that increase the risk for development of this cancer. Dietary risk factors for duodenal cancer include high intake of fat and salt and low intake of fiber. Medical conditions that can trigger duodenal cancer are celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, juvenile polyposis syndrome, duodenal ulcer, atrophic gastritis, familial adenomatosus polyposis infection, Muit-Torre syndrome, Gardner syndrome and Puetz-Jeghers syndrome.

Symptoms of Duodenal Cancer

Unfortunately, most patients with duodenal cancer are diagnosed when the cancer has reached advanced stage and has spread to other body organs. One of the primary symptoms of duodenal cancer is unexplained weight loss as the tumor interferes with processes of digestion and absorption. A person with duodenal cancer also experiences pain in the middle of the abdomen, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite and swelling in the abdomen. Pain beneath the breast bone, blood in stool and abdominal bloating after a meal are common too. Additionally, duodenal cancer causes heartburn, acid reflux, fatigue and iron-deficiency anemia.Diagnosis of Duodenal Cancer

Duodenal cancer produces symptoms similar to those of other gastrointestinal diseases. Because of this, a doctor must order different diagnostic tests and procedures to rule out other medical problems. Diagnosis of duodenal cancer includes physical examination done to check for presence of lumps in the abdomen and analysis of a sample of stool to detect presence of blood cells. The doctor may also order additional tests such as CT scan, x-ray of the abdomen, barium enema, liver function test, upper endoscopy, laparotomy and biopsy. Treatment for Duodenal Cancer

Treatment for duodenal cancer depends on the stage of the cancer, age of a patient and other present medical conditions. Duodenal cancer is usually treated with chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Sometimes, surgery is also included in the treatment. A surgical procedure used to treat duodenal cancer is called the Whipple. This procedure involves removal of the duodenum and part of the stomach.

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