Gastrointestinal (GI) cancer is a term used for cancer of the organs of the digestive system. The commonly occurring cancers of GI tract include esophageal, stomach, gall bladder, pancreas, colon and liver cancer.
Most of the cancers of GI tract have immense malignant potential except a few which include neuroendocrine tumors. Early detection of cancer before it has invaded locally or spread to distant organs can offer a chance of complete cure.
Esophageal cancer presents as a gradual difficulty is swallowing solids and slowly there is difficulty in swallowing liquids as the lumen of the esophagus progressively narrows with the progression of the cancer.
Stomach cancer presents with weight loss, anemia, gastric outlet obstruction resulting in vomiting, fatigue, abdominal fullness, gastrointestinal blood loss in form of blood vomiting or passage of black stools or with early satiety.
Gall bladder and liver cancer present with dull pain in the right upper quadrant of abdomen and may have jaundice.
Pancreatic cancer presents with painless progressive jaundice and weight loss.
Colon cancer presents with anemia, blood in the stools and worsening constipation.
It is of utmost importance not ot to neglect red flag signs in GI cancer which include loss of weight, blood in vomit or stools, black colour stools or vomit, difficulty in swallowing food and a falling hemoglobin
With the advance of diagnostic and therapeutic GI endoscopy an early cancer of the luminal gastrointestinal tract can be removed through advanced techniques viz. endoscopic mucosal resection (EMR) and endoscopic submucosal dissection (ESD).
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