Intestinal adenocarcinoma

From Cow
Metastatic tumour masses on the surface of distended jejunal loops[1]

Intestinal adenocarcinoma are a relatively rare neoplasia of the intestine of cattle worldwide.

This tumour apparently has a predilection for the duodenum, jejunum and ileum of cattle and with an incidence of less than 0.01%.

The cause of this disease is unknown, however, intestinal adenocarcinoma is commonly seen in association with bovine enzootic haematuria due to carcinogens (ptaquiloside) in bracken fern[2].

Affected cattle often present with vague, intermittent symptoms such as fever, anorexia, weight loss, reduced milk production, colic and tensemus.

Diagnosis is often based on presenting clinical signs, ultrasonographic findings of thickening of intestinal loops, and confirmation usually requires an exploratory laparotomy and localisation of the tumour.

Most adenocarcinoma appear stenotic, annular, scirrhous and superficially ulcerating. Jejunal carcinomas in the cattle tend to metastasize to the regional and bronchomediastinal lymph nodes[3].

Intestinal squamous cell carcinoma have also been associated with chronic bracken fern toxicity and infection with papilloma virus type-4[4].

A definitive diagnosis requires histological analysis of tissues. A differential diagnosis must include lymphosarcoma and papilloma[5].

Surgical enterectomy may be palliative, but recurrence is common, as in other species, and this disease carries a guarded prognosis.


  1. Floeck, M et al (2008) Ileal adenocarcinoma in a cow: a case report. Veterinarni Medicina 4:221–223
  2. Merck Vet Manual
  3. Vítovec J (1977) Carcinomas of the intestine in cattle and pigs. Zentralbl Veterinarmed A 24(5):413-421
  4. Masuda EK et al (2011) Morphological factors as indicators of malignancy of squamous cell carcinomas in cattle exposed naturally to bracken fern (Pteridium aquilinum). J Comp Pathol 144(1):48-54
  5. Bertone AL et al (1990) Neoplasms of the bovine gastrointestinal tract. Vet Clin North Am Food Anim Pract 6(2):515-524