Group of cancers that affect the gastrointestinal tract and other organs within the digestive system. The most common sites of GI cancer start in the colon (large intestine), rectum, esophagus, pancreas, stomach, and liver. Other common areas include the gallbladder, biliary system, and small intestine.
The most common types of gastrointestinal cancers are:
Other types are neuroendocrine tumors, gastrointestinal stromal tumors, and anal cancer.
Gastrointestinal cancers are more likely to develop in men, increasing the risk with age. Research has linked these cancers to cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption, and unhealthy diets.
The causes of gastrointestinal cancers include:
Symptoms of early-stage gastric cancers are usually vague and similar to those of minor stomach aches, indigestions, and infections. However, as the disease progresses, symptoms become more severe and persistent.
The following are some of the most common symptoms of gastric cancer:
For diagnosis of gastrointestinal cancer, following tests may be performed:
Biopsy to obtain a sample of abnormal tissue and analyze it for the presence of cancer cells. Tissue samples are often collected during an endoscopy procedure.
The most common forms of treatment for gastric cancer are surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. Other treatment options may include immunotherapy, hormonal therapy, and targeted therapy. The best treatment option will depend on several factors, such as cancer stage, the patient’s age, and their general health.
Surgery remains the primary treatment option for most patients with gastric cancer. There are several types of surgery depending on the size and extent of cancer.
In many cases, surgery can be performed using minimally invasive laparoscopic approaches and robotic assistance.
Chemotherapy is a type of primary that uses drugs to kill or stop the growth of cancer cells. It can be given before surgery to shrink the tumor and make it easier to remove or after surgery to kill remaining cancer cells left after surgery, or along with radiation.
There are several types of chemotherapy:
Radiation therapy uses high-energy beams of X-rays or protons to kill cancer cells or stop them from growing. This treatment uses a machine to send radiation to a specific body area containing cancer. Like chemotherapy, this treatment can be used either before surgery to shrink the tumor or after surgery to eliminate any remaining cancer cells.
Immunotherapy uses the body’s immune system to attack and destroy cancer cells. Because cancer cells can inhibit the immune system by producing proteins that prevent it from recognizing them as dangerous, immunotherapy interferes with this process. This treatment is typically used when the cancer is in advanced stages.
Targeted drug therapy identifies specific weaknesses in cancer cells, then administers drugs that exploit those weaknesses. This helps attack and kill cancer cells while causing less harm to healthy cells than chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Monoclonal antibodies are one primary form of targeted drug therapy used with gastric cancer, and this type of treatment is typically combined with chemotherapy.
Beyond the standard procedures for diagnosing gastric cancer, there is currently no process for proactively screening for it. Instead, patients should try to pay close attention to any possible symptoms of gastric cancer, especially if they persist for a long time.
It is advised to take additional preventative steps to avoid gastric cancer, such as:
Authored by Dr K Srinivas Rao - Best Radiation Oncologist in Nallagandla, Hyderabad