What is GI cancer? Types

Gastrointestinal (GI) cancer is a disease that affects the digestive system and is commonly found all over the world. It may be caused by genetic conditions, lifestyle choices, or some other underlying condition. The symptoms depend on the type of cancer and include indigestion, difficulty in swallowing, bloating, loss of appetite, and pain. If you experience any of these symptoms, you should get diagnosed and treated by a reputed cancer hospital in India.

GI Cancer
GI Cancer

Some of the commonly-found types of GI cancer

Even though there are many types of GI cancer, the most common are the following:

  1. Esophageal Cancer: The esophagus is the long tube that extends from the throat to the stomach. It carries the food and liquid we consume to the stomach. Cancer can sometimes develop in the esophagus. The symptoms commonly experienced by patients include gastroesophageal reflux (heartburn or discomfort in the chest or bitter bile coming up in the throat), difficulty in swallowing, or weakness. Some people may even experience weight loss. Esophageal cancer is treated using a combination of chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery.
  2. Colorectal cancer: This is cancer that develops in the colon or rectum. A small growth called polyp may grow on the inner wall of the colon or rectum, and DNA changes may cause the growth of abnormal cells, making the polyp cancerous. The patient may experience symptoms like weight loss, tiredness, changes in bowel habits, or blood in the stool, and abdominal pain or discomfort. Colorectal cancer has been related to underlying long-standing disorders like ulcerative colitis which is an inflammation of the digestive tract of the large bowel. It is also related to lifestyle choices like smoking, alcohol consumption, high consumption of red meat, and a sedentary lifestyle. Treatment usually consists of surgery which includes removal of the affected parts of the bowel in early-stage of the disease. In advanced stages, procedures like colostomy or ileostomy or a combination of chemotherapy and radiation may be used.
  3. Pancreatic cancer: This cancer affects the pancreas, which makes insulin and enzymes that help in the digestion process. Some cells start growing abnormally, affecting the organ’s functions. Symptoms experienced include appetite loss, abdominal pain, uncontrolled blood sugar, and yellow discoloration of the eyes or skin (jaundice). It is mostly associated with obesity, a family history of pancreatic cancer, or people who have diabetes. Treatment methods are mostly in the form of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy.
  4. Liver Cancer: This type of cancer is difficult to diagnose and is usually found when it is in an advanced stage. Hepatocellular carcinoma is the most common type of liver cancer. It has been linked to people with chronic liver disease and in people who drink too much alcohol, are obese, or diabetic. The symptoms depend on the cancer type and range from loss of appetite, yellow discoloration of the eyes or skin (jaundice), nausea, fatigue, or upper abdominal pain. If the cancer is at an early stage, a surgical method called partial hepatectomy may be used. Even a liver transplant could be an option at such a stage. In cancers where the tumour is too large or partial hepatectomy is not possible, treatment options include ablation, embolization, immunotherapy, or chemotherapy. In very advanced stages, targeted immunotherapy drugs like Pembrolizumab or Tecentriq may be used along with radiation therapy to reduce symptoms like pain. Visiting a reputed GI cancer treatment in India increases the chances of recovery in such patients.