Dr. Karthik Chandra VallaM
(MBBS, M.S, M.Ch, D.N.B Surgical Oncology)
What is Gastrointestinal Cancer?
Gastrointestinal cancer is a type of cancer that affects the digestive system which includes the esophagus, stomach, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, small intestine, large intestine (colon), rectum, and anus.
Causes of Gastrointestinal Cancer:
The cause of gastrointestinal cancer is not known. However, certain risk factors such as:
- Excessive alcohol intake
- Advanced age
- Diet rich in animal fat and salt
- Poorly preserved food
Types of Gastrointestinal Cancer:
Esophageal cancer is a type of cancer that begins in the tube connecting the throat to the stomach.
This cancer involves the lining of the stomach and is frequently connected to factors such as Helicobacter pylori infection, smoking, and specific dietary aspects.
It can develop in the liver cells and could be linked to chronic liver conditions like cirrhosis, infections such as hepatitis B or C, and the excessive consumption of alcohol.
It affects the pancreas, an organ that produces enzymes for digestion and hormones like insulin.
Affects the colon or rectum, constituting one of the prevalent forms of gastrointestinal cancers, encompassing both colon and rectal cancers.
This cancer occurs in the gallbladder, a tiny organ responsible for storing bile produced by the liver.
Small Intestine Cancer:
Small intestine cancer is an uncommon type of cancer that originates in the small intestine, which is a component of the digestive system.
Anal cancer is a type of cancer that develops in the tissues of the anus, which is the opening at the end of the digestive tract.
Signs and symptoms of Gastrointestinal Cancer:
The signs and symptoms vary based on the specific location of the gastrointestinal cancer. Typically, patients commonly experience nausea, vomiting, and weight loss. Certain cancers may lead to bleeding and alterations in stool color. These symptoms tend to worsen over time and do not improve without intervention. If you are facing these symptoms, seeking prompt evaluation by a medical doctor is crucial.
Treatments for Gastrointestinal Cancer
The type of treatment for gastrointestinal cancers varies depending on the type of cancer, the location of the cancer, the patient’s age, and their overall health.
There are several treatment options available for gastrointestinal cancers:
surgery, radiation therapy chemotherapy, target therapy, and other standard approaches.
- Surgical procedures vary depending on the size and site of the cancer. Some of the common surgeries include:
Fulguration: The use of electric current to kill tumor cells.
Cryosurgery: Involves freezing the cancer cells to destroy them.
Resection: Removal of the cancerous growth.
Radio frequency ablation: The use of high-energy radio waves to kill cancer cells.
- Radiation therapy is a medical technique that directs powerful beams of energy to target and eliminate cancerous cells.
- Chemotherapy is a type of cancer treatment that uses drugs that are either given through the veins or taken by mouth. It is especially effective when cancer has spread to other parts of your body. These drugs target the cells that divide fast, slowing down the spread of cancer.
- Target therapy prevents the growth of new blood vessels in cancer cells. When there is no blood supply to the cancer cells, it slows down their growth.Treatment outcomes differ among patients, with some achieving a complete cure and others experiencing a slowdown in cancer progression, enhancing their quality of life. Prognostic factors encompass cancer type, stage, age, pre-cancer health, and individual response to treatment.Cancer, on the other hand, can spread to other parts of the body and cause death if not treated.