Although several cancers are one of the main reasons for deaths globally, GI cancers are the most common cause of death. GI cancer is the collective term of different types of cancerous diseases that affect the digestive tract. So, if you have a cancerous tumor in the esophagus, stomach, liver, colon, or other parts of the digestive system, the doctors will categorize it as GI cancer.
Gastrointestinal cancers begin in the lining of the cells of one or more organs of the GI tract. Cancer may metastasize to the digestive organs and spread to lymph nodes and other surrounding tissues.
A Surgical Gastroenterologist is Important for the treatment of GI Cancers
Whenever we think of a GI surgeon, we think of problems with the stomach and intestine. However, a surgical gastroenterologist does much more than tackle heartburn, indigestion, and acidity issues.
Surgical gastroenterology is a sub-specialty field of medicine dealing with diseases related to the entire human gastrointestinal tract. It means that a GI surgeon has received formal training in treating disorders related to several GI tract organs such as the esophagus, stomach, pancreas, liver, gall bladder, and biliary tract, small and large intestine, rectum, and anus.
As diseases of the gastrointestinal system are far common in India today, surgical gastroenterology is a well-recognized field, especially by the National Board of Examinations. A surgical gastroenterologist or a GI surgeon has received training to provide tertiary care for patients. They have experience in complicated GI surgeries, including the treatment of different types of gastrointestinal cancers.
With the advancement in medical technology, the profession of a GI surgeon has evolved from a pure diagnostician to an essential member of the oncology team. They hold a crucial place towards ensuring optimum patient care. As a GI cancer surgeon, the medical professional is equipped in:
- Accurate risk assessment and early detection of GI cancers.
- Interpretation of laboratory tests and investigations to arrive at a logical diagnosis.
- Emergency GI surgeries such as gastrointestinal bleeding, trauma, etc.
- Carrying out endoscopic procedures, laparoscopy, and other minimally-invasive surgical procedures.
- Proficient pre-operative and post-operative care.
- Pain management techniques and palliative surgeries.
Whether caused by a lifestyle issue or congenital anomalies, surgical gastroenterologists advise regular medical screenings and immediate medical attention to treat cancer. So, do not miss out on routine medical checkups at the GI surgeon's clinic.
How are GI Cancer Surgeries different than Other Surgeries?
The digestive system is one of the most crucial systems of our body. It does the function of breaking down food into nutrients that the body can assimilate for energy, cell growth, and repair. Without the efficient working of the digestive system, it becomes difficult for the patient to survive. Let’s understand how GI cancer surgeries are more complicated:
1. Esophageal Cancer Surgery
With the help of an esophagectomy, the GI surgeon will remove the cancerous tumor and the affected part of the esophagus. The procedure also includes a resection to connect the healthy section of the esophagus to the stomach so that the patient can swallow food easily.
2. Stomach Cancer Surgery
If a patient has stomach cancer and a total gastrectomy is necessary, the GI surgeon will remove the stomach and connect the esophagus to the small intestine. This way, the doctor can ensure the passage of food and absorption of nutrients.
3. Colon Cancer Surgery
If the GI surgeon is undertaking a colectomy, the doctor will remove a part of the colon affected by cancer. The surgical procedure also involves attaching the remaining of the colon to the digestive tract to ensure efficient functioning. For example, during the right hemicolectomy, the doctor will remove the ascending colon and attach the end of the small intestine to the transverse colon.
4. Liver and Biliary Tract Cancer Surgery
If the patient is suffering from liver and biliary tract cancer, the GI surgeon has to undertake a complicated biliary tract surgery to remove the tumor. The surgery will depend on the size and location of the tumor. For example, in cases of Intrahepatic bile duct cancers, the surgeon may have to cut out a piece of the liver as well. It is essential to work with an experienced surgical gastroenterologist because, after the resection of tumor, the doctor will have to undertake a reconstruction of the biliary tract for the optimum digestive function of the body.
5. Whipple’s Procedure for Pancreatic Cancer
The procedure to remove the cancerous tumors from the head of the pancreas, duodenum, gall bladder and bile duct is called Whipple’s procedure or Pancreaticoduodenectomy. Usually, the surgery involves removing tumors. It is a proven surgical procedure to treat pancreatic cancer in the head of the organ. After the surgery, the GI surgeon will reconstruct/reconnect the remaining organs for effective digestion. The medical professional may undertake: 1) Pancreatojejunostomy for pancreatic juices 2) Hepaticojejunostomy for biliary juices 3) Gastrojejunostomy for food and gastric juices.
And, so when it comes to GI cancer surgeries, surgical gastroenterologists take special care in removing the tumor & the affected tissues and ensure accurate reconstruction of the remaining of the GI tract.
So, whether you undergo surgery for diagnosing cancer, staging cancer, removing the cancerous tumor and surrounding tissues to prevent the spread of the disease, or as a preventative measure, choose a reputed and experienced GI surgeon as a part of your oncology team.
For the best GI cancer treatment, consult Surat’s first National Board Certified HPB and GI cancer surgeon.