Medline: 1548877

Journal of Surgical Oncology 49(1): 29-34, 1992.

Primary neoplasms of the small bowel.

Serour F, Dona G, Birkenfeld S, et al.


Primary neoplasms of the small bowel are unusual and constitute 1-5% of all gastrointestinal tract neoplasms. Preoperative diagnostic difficulties, frequent dissemination at the time of the diagnosis, and poor prognosis are characteristic of this pathology. During a period of 26 years we treated 61 patients with tumors of the small bowel, 44 malignant and 18 benign (1 patient had both). The most common symptoms were abdominal pain (62%), weight loss (41%), and gastro-intestinal bleeding (31%). More than half of the patients were treated as emergencies and among the remaining, the most useful diagnostic test was the small intestinal barium study. Seventeen patients were operated on for intestinal obstruction, 6 of them due to intussusception of the tumor, while 8 other patients presented with perforation and 7 with massive gastrointestinal bleeding. Leiomyoma was the most frequent benign lesion. Among malignancies lymphoma was encountered in 38.6%, followed by adenocarcinoma (29.6%) and leiomyosarcoma (22.8%). Lymphoma was predominant among Sephardic Jews. Curative procedures were attempted in all but one of the benign cases and in 21 of the malignant cases. At the time of surgery metastases were present in 23 patients. The postoperative mortality was high (20% and 14% in the benign and malignant groups, respectively) most probably due to the high incidence of emergency surgery in a high risk population. The prognosis of the malignant tumors was poor with a 5-year survival of 18%. Their disappointing course seems to be related to late diagnosis because of nonspecific symptoms and difficulty in bringing the tumor to the fore. Hopefully, a greater awareness will lead to an earlier diagnosis and improve the prognosis.

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