The gastrointestinal tract commonly known as the GI tract includes all the digestive system in the human body. They are the organs responsible for food intake and digestion.
They GI tract include the esophagus, stomach, biliary system, pancreas, small intestine, large intestine, rectum and anus. The GI tract is large and complex.
Gastrointestinal cancer is a malignant or cancerous condition of the gastrointestinal tract. Any of the digestive organs may be infected and become cancerous with time. When any of these organs become cancerous intake of food or digestion becomes difficult.
Healthy cells may be infected and become abnormal. These cells grow into a tumor and become cancerous with time. A cancerous tumor is malignant. This means the cancerous tumor can grow and spread to other parts of the body.
When any organs in the GI tract becomes cancerous, the cancerous tumor has the ability to grow and spread to other surrounding organs. This means if any organ in the GI tract is cancerous, all other organs are at risk of being infected.
The symptoms a patient will experience depend on the organ that is affected. Some patients may not experience any symptoms at the early stage. Some of the symptoms may be similar regardless of the organ that is affected.
Symptoms may include difficulty in swallowing, abnormal bleeding, indigestion, heartburn, vomiting, loss of appetite, weight loss, weakness, difficulty in defecating, and so on.
The treatment of gastrointestinal cancer depends on the organ that is affected, the location of the tumor, and if the cancer has spread to other parts of the body.
For the purpose of clarity, we are going to look at the treatment of different gastrointestinal organs in the GI tract.
The esophagus is one of the organs in the upper gastrointestinal tract. It is a tube that connects the mouth with the stomach. When you eat, the esophagus pushes down the food to the stomach.
Gastrointestinal cancer that could occur in the esophagus is of two types. The Squamous cell carcinoma and Adenocarcinoma. The squamous cell carcinoma occurs at the upper and middle part of the esophagus while the adenocarcinoma occurs at the lower part of the esophagus.
Esophageal cancer affects more men than women. Squamous cell carcinoma affects more African-American while adenocarcinoma affects more middle-aged Caucasian men.
The doctor will ask some important questions about the health of the patient and family history. The patient will undergo physical examinations. The doctor will conduct a series of x-rays of your esophagus.
You may also undergo an endoscopy so that your doctor can see the inner layer of the esophagus. Your doctor may take samples of biopsies for medical examination to detect for any availability of cancer cells. Your doctor may also perform an endoscopic ultrasound to assess the depth of the tumor and any lymph nodes that may be affected.
The patient may also undergo a CT scan of the neck, chest and abdomen to check if the cancer has spread to other organs.
The stage of the cancer determines the treatment options. If the cancer is at its early stage, radiation, endoscopic mucosal resection, endoscopic submucosal dissection or chemotherapy can be used for treatment.
Cancer that has developed to a later stage can be treated using surgical means or a combination of radiation, chemotherapy and surgery.
Stomach cancer is also known as gastric cancer. The stomach is part of the upper gastrointestinal tract. The stomach plays a central role in the digestive system. It is the place where foods are stored, broken down and digested.
The stomach connects the esophagus with the small intestine. When it digests the foods, it transfers it to the small intestine for further digestion.
Stomach cancer occurs when healthy cells in the stomach become abnormal and start to grow out of control. Cells in any part of the stomach can become cancerous and may spread to other organs of the body if not treated on time.
Adenocarcinoma is the most common stomach cancer. Other rare types of stomach cancers include gastric sarcoma, lymphoma and neuroendocrine tumors.
Early symptoms and signs of stomach cancer are not usually noticed. Most symptoms of stomach cancer are, however, similar to common symptoms of stomach virus. Symptoms include:
The cause of stomach cancer is not known for certain. However, there are known factors that increase the risk of developing stomach cancer. These include:
Screening and diagnoses of stomach cancer are similar to the screening and diagnosis processes of esophageal cancer.
The patient will be asked some series of health-related questions and family history. Samples of biopsies may be collected for examination to detect if cancer is available.
The patient may undergo endoscopy, laparoscopy, endoscopic ultrasound, x-rays, CT scan, and MRI.
All these series of tests and examinations will help the doctor to detect the availability and stage of the cancer.
The treatment options for stomach cancer depend on different factors. The factors include the stage of the cancer, the type of cancer, possible side effect of the treatment and health condition of the patient.
Early stage of cancer can be treated with radiation therapy, chemotherapy, immunotherapy or targeted therapy. Cancer that has developed to a more advanced and critical stage may be treated with surgery or a combination of different treatment options.
Prognosis and survival rates only give you an idea of the survival rate at each stage of the cancer. It is the record compiled from a particular period of time of cancer patients.
It helps to give a better understanding of how likely treatment will be successful. It doesn’t state for certain if a cancer patient will be healed or not and how long the patient will live.
Cancer patients with stage I cancer has a survival rate of 65% or above in a 5-year survival rate. This means that 65% of patients with stage I cancer are able to live up to 5 years or more.
Patients with stage II cancer have a survival rate of 40%.
Patients with stage III cancer have a survival rate of 20%
Patients with stage IV cancer have a survival rate of 4%
Survival rates are all estimated at a 5-years duration after being diagnosed.
Record showed that more than 50% of patients with localized distal (stage I) cancer have been cured.
Gastrointestinal cancer occurs mostly in older people. About 60% of older adults who are 64 years and above are diagnosed with gastrointestinal cancer.
Gastrointestinal cancer affects men more than women. The probability that a man will develop cancer in his lifetime is 1 out of 95. The probability that a woman will develop cancer in her lifetime is 1 out of 154.
The rate of gastrointestinal cancer varies in different parts of the world. It is one of the most common types of cancer in the United States, though the numbers are declining in recent years. It is much more common now in less developed countries.
Gastrointestinal cancer is among the top causes of cancer-related death in the world.
Estimates from the American Cancer Society in the United States for the year 2019 shows that:
27,510 (17,230 men and 10,280 women) patients will be diagnosed with gastrointestinal cancer this year in the United States.
11,140 (6,800 men and 4, 340 women) of cancer patients will die this year in the United States.
The cost of gastrointestinal cancer treatment depends on several factors. Factors may include the stage of cancer, health condition of the patient, location, hospital & facilities, treatment options, and related expenses.
The cost generally includes visits to doctor and other medical teams. It also includes tests, medical examinations, imaging scans, drugs, and so on.
Some hospitals accept payment every month for treatment. Newly diagnosed cancer can range from $10,600 to 20,100 per month for treatment.
With chemotherapy and radiation, cancer treatment can cost from $50,000 up to $200,000.
Different hospitals charges differently. The treatment options have a huge impact on the cost.
Cancer treatment is often covered by health insurance, though some health insurance plans may not cover certain treatments and medications.