When it comes to gastric cancer in India, the Indian Council of Medical Research had recently presented a consensus document for management of gastric cancer. It is estimated that 50,000 new cases will be reported annually by the end of 2020. Medical professionals across the world give more importance to gastrointestinal cancer because when combined together as a group, it is one of the deadliest and most commonly occurring cancers in the body.
As per Globocan data 2012, out of an estimated 1.01 million new cases of cancer in India, 227,000 were located in the GI tract. When it comes to analyzing the data of 682,000 cancer-related deaths in India, approximately 182,000 deaths were because of GI cancers. It shows that the threat is very real. Let's understand gastrointestinal cancer in detail so that we can unite and fight against the disease.
Gastrointestinal Cancer is Much More Than Stomach Cancer
Stomach cancer is one of the many cancers that are part of the cluster called GI cancer. However, a gastroenterologist will tell you that gastrointestinal cancer includes various cancers arising from digestive system - Esophagus (Food pipe), Stomach, Colorectal (Most Common), Liver, Pancreas and Gall bladder.
The problem with GI cancer, as with other cancers, is the late detection of the disease. The signs & symptoms of GI cancer are very subtle. So, most patients either neglect them or end up getting treated as problems such as gas or acidity by general practitioners. The patient comes to a GI surgeon at a stage when the effectiveness of curative treatment is negligible.
You have to be very careful and keep a close watch for the following symptoms:
- Anorexia (loss of appetite)
- Unintended significant weight loss (> 5 kg in 3 months or > 10 kg in 6 months)
- Low grade fever
- Anemia with no obvious cause
- Difficulty in swallowing, black vomiting or blood in vomit
- Passage of black color stools, passage of blood or mucus in stool
- Alternate diarrhea & constipation,
- Abdominal pain, abdominal distention or swelling
- Back pain.
Whenever you are facing such problems persistently, you should consult an expert gastrointestinal surgeon. Please remember that the above signs and symptoms do not confirm GI cancer but it is important that a medical professional examines the problem. Your gastrointestinal doctor may suggest a few tests to confirm the diagnoses.
- Blood Tests
- Computed Tomography (CT) scan,
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan,
- Endoscopy/Colonoscopy with Biopsy.
If your doctor diagnoses the existence of GI cancer, he may include different treatment modalities such as:
1. Surgery - The only curative treatment available
Why visit an Experienced GI surgeon?
1. The success rate of different treatment modalities is very high. However, lack of awareness and late detection can cause problems. If you experience any warning signals, immediately consult a gastroenterologist for early detection and immediate treatment.
2. A GI surgeon experienced with laparoscopic GI surgery (keyhole surgery) will ensure minimal pain and quick recovery. Most patients can resume consuming food orally the very next day.
3. Once the cancer is removed successfully, efficient reconstruction of the GI tract is possible with an experienced GI surgeon. It can help you to return back to normal life easily.
Is it Possible to Prevent Gastrointestinal Cancer?
Well, it is not always possible to prevent GI cancer. However, you can reduce the risk factor by adopting a healthy lifestyle and avoiding addictions. Start by reducing the consumption of the following things: cigarettes, tobacco, alcohol, red meat, diet lacking fruits and vegetables. Focus on maintaining a healthy weight and keep yourself active. It will definitely help in reducing the risks of GI cancer.
Do not ignore the symptoms of GI cancer. Visit a gastrointestinal surgeon immediately. Dr. Jay Chokshi is a reputed gastrointestinal cancer specialist in Surat. Whether it is treatment for colorectal cancer, stomach cancer or pancreatic cancer, you can trust his expertise. Book an appointment by calling on +91-9825718911.