Gastrointestinal cancers are some of the most deadly in the world. MACs for cancer clinic is considered the best clinic for cancer treatment in Bangalore. Dr. Sandeep Nayak is the founder of this state-of-the-art cancer treatment center with the latest setup in technology, including a robotic surgery treatment unit.
In 2016, Colon and rectal cancer killed more people than breast, prostate, lung, and liver cancers combined. The risk of getting gastrointestinal cancers is higher in people with a history of smoking or drinking alcohol or taking aspirin or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). The risk is also higher among people with a history of Helicobacter pylori infection or chronic pancreatitis. The outlook for people with gastrointestinal cancers is very grim. The 5-year survival rate is less than 10 percent in advanced stages. However, there are effective treatments that can improve the prognosis and quality of life for patients with gastrointestinal cancers.
In this article, Dr. Sandeep Nayak, one of the best oncologists in Bangalore, discusses the various types of gastrointestinal cancers, the multiple stages of these cancers, the types of treatments available for these cancers at MACS for cancer clinic, and the survival of these patients.
MACs for cancer clinic is considered the best clinic for cancer treatment in Bangalore. Dr. Sandeep Nayak is the founder of this state-of-the-art cancer treatment center with the latest setup in technology, including a robotic surgery treatment unit.
What is gastrointestinal cancer?
Gastrointestinal cancers are cancers that arise in the digestive system. Most gastrointestinal cancers arise from the cells lining the inside of the intestines and stomach, but some can also arise from other parts of the digestive system as well.
What are the symptoms of Gastrointestinal Cancer?
Gastrointestinal cancers may manifest as indigestion, loose motions, vomiting, bloating, which are symptoms common to stomach infection or food poisoning. But if the symptoms persist for more than a week, you should go to a specialist immediately, says Dr. Sandeep Nayak.
You may approach a gastroenterologist for a preliminary check-up, which may also include an endoscopy for finding out the causes of your persisting indigestion.
Confirming the presence of cancers may require MRIs and other tests, including biopsies and markers in blood tests.
If the symptoms aggravate with time and you notice blood in your stool or vomit combined with weight loss, anemia, and lack of appetite, it is a call for acting in an emergency.
Stages of Gastrointestinal Cancer
Gastrointestinal cancer is a very broad term that can encompass many different types of cancers. The most common forms are colorectal, liver, and gastric cancers.
Colorectal Cancer: Colorectal cancer is the 2nd leading cause of cancer-related death in India, and each year more than 40 k cases are detected. It is also the most common form of gastrointestinal cancer, accounting for about 50% to 60% of all cases. The 3 main stages for colorectal cancers are:
Stage I: Limited to the innermost layer of cells lining the colon or rectum (the mucosa)
Stage II: Involves growth through the wall of the colon or rectum but not through nearby tissues
Stage III: Growth has spread to nearby tissues such as lymph nodes, blood vessels, and organs near or in the abdomen that can affect vital functions, including the intestines, stomach, and liver
Grade 1: Lowest grade representing early cells with no significant change in cell appearance
Grade 2: Moderate changes in cellular structure, but the inflammatory response is still low
Grade 3: Significant structural changes and inflammatory response
Grade 4: High-grade tumors that are resistant to treatment
What causes gastrointestinal cancers?
Dr. Sandeep Nayak explains that Gastrointestinal cancers are caused by lifestyle choices such as smoking, drinking alcohol, and taking NSAIDs. They can also be caused by infections with Helicobacter pylori and chronic pancreatitis.
Can gastrointestinal cancers be prevented?
Dr. Sandeep Nayak thoroughly believes that cancers can be prevented. He says that some gastrointestinal cancers are preventable. For example, chronic pancreatitis can be prevented by limiting the consumption of alcohol and NSAIDs. Also, stomach cancer can be prevented by avoiding Helicobacter pylori infection.
Other than the risk factors that can be reduced to reduce the risk of getting gastrointestinal cancers, if you have a family history of these cancers, then it is recommended that you get screened for these diseases at an earlier age.
Types of Gastrointestinal Cancer
There are 3 main types of gastrointestinal cancers.
Stomach cancer: Stomach cancer is the most common type of gastrointestinal cancer. In India, more than 30,000 individuals get stomach cancer every year, which is higher than the number of people that develop colon and rectal cancers.
Intestinal cancer: Intestinal cancers affect the small intestine or large intestine. They include adenocarcinoma, lymphomas, and sarcomas. The prognosis for intestinal cancers is not as good as other types of gastrointestinal cancers because they are challenging to diagnose at an early stage due to symptoms that are not specific for this type of cancer. For instance, nausea and vomiting can be caused by a number of different conditions, including food poisoning or premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
Colorectal cancer: Colorectal cancers are the second most common type of gastrointestinal cancer after stomach cancer. Colorectal cancers affect the colon or rectum, and they account for about one-third of all cases of gastrointestinal tract cancer worldwide. Although colorectal cancers usually do not have any symptoms during their early stages, they can eventually cause bleeding from the bowel movements and blood in stools or vomit. These symptoms should prompt immediate medical attention because there is a high risk for colorectal cancers if these symptoms persist for more than 2 weeks.
The survival rate of gastrointestinal cancer
The 5-year survival rate in the advanced stages of gastrointestinal cancers is less than 10 percent. The outlook can be improved with the right treatments and an early diagnosis.
The prognosis for people suffering from gastrointestinal cancer depends on the type of cancer, its stage, and the treatment method. Fortunately, there are many types of treatments and surgeries for this condition that offer an excellent prognostic outcome. For example, palliative chemotherapy offers a cure rate of 50-70 percent for stage IV colorectal cancer in people over 65 years old. In select cases, surgery may also offer long-term benefits for patients suffering from these cancers.
Surgical and non-surgical treatments for Gastrointestinal cancer
There are surgical and non-surgical treatments available for gastrointestinal cancers. For example, surgery is the standard treatment for colon cancers that are localized and have not spread to other parts of the body. There are also chemotherapies and radiation therapies that can treat these types of cancer.
For patients who have metastatic cancer, there are also chemotherapy and radiation therapies available. There is a difference between chemotherapy and radiation therapy when it comes to gastrointestinal cancers. Chemotherapy drugs are given as pills or liquids directly into the digestive tract through a tube (intravenously) or as suppositories inserted into the rectum (rectally). Radiation therapy usually involves a combination of X-rays, high-energy rays, and gamma rays delivered from an external source to shrink the tumor.
The survival rate for Gastrointestinal cancer varies depending on the type of cancer and the stage at which it is detected—the earlier the cancer is found, the better the chances of treatment.
If untreated, gastrointestinal cancers can spread to other parts of the body. Early detection and treatment can help with your prognosis. If you are experiencing symptoms, please consult a physician and ask to be tested for Gastrointestinal cancer.