Things You Need to Know About Gastro-Intestinal Cancer

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Things You Need to Know About Gastro-Intestinal Cancer

Referring to the malign conditions of the GI tract in the body, Gastro-Intestinal Cancer has been one of the most leading causes of death in the past decade. If we glance at the prevalence of GI cancer in India, the results will shock us. While esophageal cancer is prominent in major parts of India, the deaths concerning gastric cancer show a dismal figure also. However, the question arises - is it possible to safeguard ourselves from this menacing illness? Of course, yes, but that requires an integration of three pivotal components - proper knowledge, early detection and effective treatment.

The gastrointestinal (GI) tract is the 25-foot-long pathway that extends from the mouth to the anus. Everything you eat passes through the oesophagus and gets processed in the stomach and small intestines to extract nutrients. Ultimately, the waste is far away from your body through the colon and rectum. Sometimes, a tumour can form in one of these organs, after a change within the DNA causes abnormal cells to grow. What’s behind this type of change (known as a mutation)? It might be anything from underlying conditions to lifestyle choices to genetics. Treatments are simpler when the cancer is detected at an early stage - which, unfortunately, are often a challenge.

The good news is that healthy lifestyle changes can help reduce the danger of GI cancer. “There may be a clear reduction in risk with a lifestyle that has regular exercise, a diet high in fruits and vegetables, minimal meat and moderate alcohol.

Routine colorectal screening also markedly reduces the danger of carcinoma by finding and removing polyps before they need the prospect to become cancerous.

What is Gastro-Intestinal Cancer?

Gastro-Intestinal Cancer may be a collective term used for a variety of malignant conditions that affect the alimentary canal within the physical body which consists of organs just like the oesophagus, stomach, pancreas, small intestine, large intestine, rectum, and anus. One of the most common forms of cancer, it affects both men and women depending upon the risk factors.

The following are the main sorts of Gastro-Intestinal Cancer (affecting the actual organ):

  • 1) Esophageal Cancer
  • 2) Stomach Cancer
  • 3) Gallbladder Cancer
  • 4) Liver Cancer
  • 5) Pancreatic Cancer
  • 6) Colon Cancer
  • 7) Rectal Cancer
  • 8) Anal Cancer


The symptoms of each type of GI Cancer varies, however, there are some symptoms common to all. These are –

  • Abdominal pain/discomfort
  • Alterations in bowel habits
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Loss of appetite
  • The feeling of Nausea/vomiting
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Feeling bloated
  • Heartburn
  • Persistent indigestion

Most of the time, symptoms of gastrointestinal cancers don’t occur until the tumour has become more advanced. Then, they depend upon the sort of cancer. Patients with esophageal cancer may have difficulty swallowing, whereas those with gastric cancer will notice ulcer-like symptoms (e.g., indigestion, loss of appetite, bloating and pain). Liver cancer and carcinoma also can cause abdominal pain, and colorectal cancer—as you would possibly expect—causes changes in bowel function or bleeding.


With advanced diagnosis options like upper endoscopy (where a thin tube with a tiny camera is inserted in your stomach via your throat to look for any malicious tissues), computerized tomography, and X-ray examinations generally known as barium swallow, detection of gastro-intestinal cancer has become easy. Moreover, to work out the stage of GI cancers, imaging tests including CT scan and PET (Positron Emission Tomography) are done. In some cases, exploratory surgery is additionally conducted to see for the signs of cancer and whether it has/hasn’t spread to other organs of the body.

If patients have symptoms and the doctor has reason to suspect a diagnosis of gastrointestinal cancer, they may perform some of the following tests:

  • Endoscopy or esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD) to check the lining of the esophagus, stomach and small intestine for tumours
  • Colonoscopy to see the colon and rectum for polyps, which may become cancerous
  • Lab tests to look for changes in the blood that could be signs of cancer
  • Imaging studies (MRI, X-ray, ultrasound, CT scan or PET scan) to see for abnormal tissue anywhere within the gastrointestinal system
  • Biopsy to get a sample of abnormal tissue and analyze it for the presence of cancer cells


Depending on the stage of cancer, the following treatment options are available:

  • Surgery – If cancer hasn’t spread to other organs of the body, surgery is done to remove the affected part. It also removes the margin of healthy tissues to avoid any further risk.
  • Radiation therapy – In radiation therapy, high powered beams from a machine like X-rays and protons are used to remove malicious cancer tissues.
  • Chemotherapy – It employs drugs to kill cancer cells and can also be used if cancer has spread to the other organs of the body.

When the tumour is easy to reach, surgery might be all that’s necessary. When it’s harder to reach or its removal would significantly affect gastrointestinal function, then chemotherapy, radiation therapy or targeted therapy may be tried first.

Surgery involves complete removal of the tumour, alongside surrounding tissue. To restore the function of the oesophagus or stomach, a procedure called anastomosis may be performed to connect the remaining healthy portions of the organ. Some cancer of the liver patients might be eligible for transplantation.

For very advanced cases of gastrointestinal cancer that can’t be effectively treated, doctors may aim to alleviate symptoms instead of cure the disease.

If you're looking forward to having the simplest cancer treatment in India, Aadicura Superspecaility Hospital’s state-of-the-art facilities are here to assist you in all possible ways. The fight against gastrointestinal cancer seems challenging but with a better approach and cost-effective solutions, it surely isn’t impossible.

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