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What are the risk factors?

The cause of small bowel cancer is not known in most cases. However, there are several risk factors:

Genetic factors – Some rare, inherited diseases can put people more at risk of small bowel cancer. These include familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP), Lynch syndrome (hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer, or HNPCC), Peutz–Jeghers syndrome (PJS) and cystic fibrosis (CF). Multiple endocrine neoplasia (MEN 1) may increase the risk of small bowel neuroendocrine tumours.

Other factors – Some small bowel cancers may be linked to Crohn’s disease and coeliac disease. Eating large amounts of animal fat and protein, especially processed meat and red meat, might increase the risk of small bowel cancer.

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This information is reviewed by

This information was last reviewed February 2021 by the following expert content reviewers: Prof David Goldstein, Medical Oncologist, Prince of Wales Hospital, Sydney, NSW; Craig Lynch, Colorectal Surgeon, Sydney Adventist Hospital, Sydney; Caitriona Nienaber, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council WA; Wayne Reynolds, Consumer; Dr Stephen Thompson, Radiation Oncologist, Prince of Wales Hospital, Sydney, NSW.