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What are the symptoms?

Small bowel cancer can be difficult to diagnose, and symptoms may be vague and caused by other conditions. Symptoms may include:

  • abdominal (tummy) pain
  • unexplained weight loss
  • a lump in the abdomen
  • blood in the stools or on the toilet paper
  • changes in bowel habits, including diarrhoea or constipation
  • feeling sick (nausea) or vomiting
  • tiredness and weakness, caused by a low red blood cell count (anaemia)
  • yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice).

Small bowel neuroendocrine tumours can develop slowly and may not cause symptoms. If you do have symptoms it will depend on where in the body the tumour is and whether the tumour cells are producing hormones.

Some neuroendocrine tumours that are more advanced produce excess hormones (such as serotonin) that can cause a group of symptoms known as carcinoid syndrome. Symptoms may include facial flushing, diarrhoea, wheezing and, rarely, carcinoid heart disease leading to shortness of breath.

More information is available from NeuroEndocrine Cancer Australia.

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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.