The food that one eats passes through the oesophagus to the stomach, where it gets processed, and then to the small intestines that extract all the essential minerals. When everything is done, the waste gets removed from the body with the help of the colon and the rectum. This entire process occurs in the gastrointestinal region. The Physicians specialising in gastrointestinal oncology diagnose and treat patients suffering from a precancerous and cancerous growth in the oesophagus, stomach, small intestine, colon, rectum, pancreas, retroperitoneum, and other such intra-abdominal organs.
TYPES OF GASTROINTESTINAL CANCERS
1. ESOPHAGEAL CANCER
The oesophagus is a long hollow tube in the body that connects the throat to our stomach. It performs the function of transferring the food from the throat to the stomach, where it gets digested.
The growth of oesophagal cancer is found in the cells that line the inside of the oesophagus and can occur anywhere along the oesophagus.
Difficulty in swallowing
Sudden loss in the weight
Pain in the chest
Coughing or hoarseness
Heavy smoking is one of the leading causes leading to oesophagal cancer cells' growth. Apart from this, heavy alcohol consumption and obesity also lead to contracting this disease. Having a habit of drinking scalding liquids and minimal consumption of fruits and vegetables can also cause this disease.
2. GASTRIC/ STOMACH CANCER
Abnormal growth of cells in the stomach can lead to stomach cancer.
Difficulty in swallowing
Sudden loss in weight
Feeling full even after having a small amount of food
If you have a family history of gastrointestinal cancer, you are at a higher risk of contracting the disease. Apart from this, obesity, smoking and heavy intake of salty and smoky food and low intake of fruits and vegetables can also add to the risk of contracting this cancer.
3. COLON CANCER
Colon cancer takes place in the large intestine. This is usually found in adults and usually starts with the growth of small cancerous clumps of cells known as polyps. This forms inside the colon, and with time these polyps become colon cancer.
Sudden weight loss
Rectal bleeding or blood found in the stool
Cramps, gas or pain in the abdominal region
Change in bowel habits causing diarrhoea or constipation
Although colon cancer can be diagnosed at any age, older people are at a higher risk of contracting this disease.
Chronic inflammatory diseases of the colon, for example, ulcerative colitis, can also increase the risk of colon cancer.
Family history in colon cancer also plays a very dominant role.
People already suffering from diabetes also possess the risk of colon cancer.
Heavy consumption of smoking and alcohol is also one of the major reasons people have colon cancer.
4. PANCREATIC CANCER
The pancreas performs the function of releasing enzymes that help in the digestion and production of hormones that manage blood sugar. Pancreatic cancers grow in the tissues found in the pancreas.
Urine in a dark color
Light colored stool
Loss of appetite
Sudden weight loss
Abdominal pain resulting also in back pain.
The cause that results in pancreatic cancer is still unidentified. Although there are some factors that might increase the risk of this cancer. These factors include smoking and inherited gene mutations. People suffering from diabetes also run the risk of this cancer. Finally, old age and obesity is also a factor leading up to pancreatic cancer.
5. LIVER CANCER
Liver is an organ present on the upper right side of the abdomen. Cancer spreading in the liver is more common than cancer that starts in the cells of the liver.
Chronic infection with HBV (hepatitis B virus) and HBC (hepatitis C virus) increases the risk of contracting liver cancers.
People suffering from diabetes also possess the risk of this cancer.
Exposure of aflatoxins can also lead to liver cancer. Aflatoxins are poisons produced by the molds that grow on crops of the plants that are stored poorly.
Heavy alcohol consumption can also lead one to contract this cancer.
DIAGNOSIS OF GASTROINTESTINAL CANCERS
Specialists rely on endoscopy or esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD) in order to check the growth of tumors in the lining of the esophagus, stomach and small intestines.
To check the colon and rectum for polyps , doctors use colonoscopy.
MRI, X RAY, ULTRASOUND, CT SCAN, PET SCAN are used to diagnose the growth of abnormal tissues in the digestive tract.
Endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) may also be used, where the doctors insert a thin tube , a light and camera , and ultrasound probe into the patient's mouth. This is pushed down into the throat and to the stomach. The probe that is inserted performs the function of emitting sound waves that helps in producing the image of the tissues that make up the stomach wall and other nearby tissues . Samples of tissues are often collected in this procedure and are examined by a pathologist under a microscope to see the presence of any cancer causing cells.
TREATMENT OF GASTROINTESTINAL CANCER
In a situation where the tumor is easily reachable, surgery is all that is recommended. In cases where the tumor is hard to reach, the option of surgery is not a good option because it might affect the gastrointestinal functions. In such cases, chemotherapy, radiation therapy or targeted therapy is used first.
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