Cancers of the small bowel are relatively rare and account for approximately 1-2% of all gastrointestinal neoplasms. The most common histologic subtype - adenocarcinoma - constitutes 40% of all cases. These cancers generally present with vague abdominal discomfort and are often diagnosed at a late stage and carry a poor prognosis. The treatment of choice of early-stage small bowel adenocarcinoma is surgical resection. No standard treatment protocol has been defined for unresectable or metastatic disease. Here, we report a case of a 56-year-old woman who presented with unexplained iron deficiency anemia. Extensive initial studies with serial CT scans of the abdomen, esophagogastroduodenoscopy, small bowel capsule endoscopy and colonoscopy were noncontributory. She was later found to have a metastatic small bowel adenocarcinoma and treated with palliative chemotherapy. She achieved a modest response to the treatment. Interestingly, in our case, the sole presentation was unexplained iron deficiency anemia. Physician's awareness regarding the possibility of small bowel cancer especially in the setting of iron deficiency and its workup has been emphasized. This enhances the chance of early detection and hence better survival.
- Iron deficiency anemia
- Small bowel adenocarcinoma