What is GI Cancer?
Gastro-Intestinal (GI) cancer is a term for the group of cancers that affect the digestive system. This includes cancers of the oesophagus, gallbladder & biliary tract, liver, pancreas, stomach, small intestine, bowel (large intestine or colon and rectum), and anus.
GI cancers do not discriminate between men and women.
Stomach cancer is characterized by a growth of cancerous cells within the lining of the stomach. Also called gastric cancer, this type of cancer is difficult to diagnose because most people typically don’t show symptoms in the earlier stages.
While stomach cancer is relatively rare compared to other types of cancer, one of the biggest dangers of this disease is the difficulty of diagnosing it. Since stomach cancer usually doesn’t cause any early symptoms, it often goes undiagnosed until after it spreads to other parts of the body. This makes it more difficult to treat.
What causes GI Cancer?
Inflammation in your gut called gastritis, a certain type of long-lasting anaemia called pernicious anaemia, and growths in your stomach called polyps also can make you more likely to get cancer.
Other things that seem to play a role in raising the risk include:
- Being overweight or obese
- A diet high in smoked, pickled, or salty foods
- Stomach surgery for an ulcer
- Type-A blood
- Epstein-Barr virus infection
- Certain genes
- Working in coal, metal, timber, or rubber industries
- Exposure to asbestos
Symptoms of Stomach Cancer
Some of the most common symptoms of advanced stomach cancer are:
- nausea and vomiting
- frequent heartburn
- loss of appetite sometimes accompanied by sudden weight loss
- constant bloating
- early satiety (feeling full after eating only a small amount)
- bloody stools
- excessive fatigue
- stomach pain, which may be worse after meals
Cost of GI Cancer treatment in India is 8550 USD
The success rate of GI Cancer is 90-95%.
What are the diagnostic methods of GI Cancer?
- Blood tests to look for signs of cancer in your body.
- Upper endoscopy- the doctor will put a thin, flexible tube with a small camera down your throat to look into your stomach.
- Upper GI series test - You’ll drink a chalky liquid with a substance called barium. The fluid coats your stomach and makes it show up more clearly on X-rays.
- CT scan- is a powerful X-ray that makes detailed pictures of the inside of your body.
- Biopsy- the doctor takes a small piece of tissue from your stomach to look at under a microscope for signs of cancer cells. He might do this during an endoscopy
Treatment for GI Cancer
Treatment for stomach cancer depends on several factors, including the severity of the cancer and the individual's overall health and preferences.
Treatments may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, medications, and taking part in clinical trials.
In radiation therapy, energy rays are used to target and kill cancerous cells. This type of therapy is not commonly used to treat stomach cancer because of the risk of harming other nearby organs. However, if the cancer is advanced or causing serious symptoms, such as bleeding or severe pain, radiation therapy is an option.
Neoadjuvant radiation refers to the use of radiation therapy before surgery to make the tumours smaller, so that they can be removed more easily.
Adjuvant radiation is radiation therapy used after surgery. The aim is to kill off any remaining cancer cells around the stomach.
People may experience indigestion, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea as a result of undergoing radiation therapy.
Chemotherapy is a specialist treatment that uses drugs to stop rapidly-growing cancer cells from dividing and multiplying. These drugs are known as cytotoxic medicines. The medication travels throughout the patient's body and attacks cancer cells at the primary site of the cancer and any other regions it has metastasized to.
Neoadjuvant chemotherapy is administered before surgery to shrink the tumour so that it can be removed more easily.
Adjuvant chemotherapy is administered after surgery to destroy any cancerous cells that may be left behind. Chemotherapy may be the preferred treatment modality for certain types of gastric cancer, including gastrointestinal stromal tumours and gastric lymphoma.
Examples of targeted medications include Sutent (sunitinib) and Gleevec (imatinib), which attack specific types of abnormalities in cancerous cells for people with gastrointestinal stromal tumours.
These are experimental therapies which may be trying out new drugs or using existing therapies in novel ways. Patients may want to take part in some of the latest treatments. It is important to remember that clinical trials are experimental and in no way guarantee a cure for stomach cancer.
Preventing stomach cancer
Stomach cancer alone can’t be prevented. However, you can lower your risk of developing cancers by:
- maintaining a healthy weight
- eating a balanced, low-fat diet
- quitting smoking
- exercising regularly