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Upper Gastrointestinal Cancer – What You Should Know!

Cancer is a life-threatening disease. It disrupts the cell renewal and destruction process. With early treatment, cancer doesn’t lead to death. But untreated later-stage cancer can cause severe symptoms and even lead to death. Some people die from cancer early if the cancer is very severe or there are unexpected complications. In other cases, it can even take years or months.

Upper Gastrointestinal Cancer Management

Upper Gastrointestinal cancer is among the leading ten cancers. It is caused when a tumour forms in one of these organs causing abnormal cells to grow. Some of the common symptoms of gastrointestinal cancer include a change in eating behavior, difficulty in swallowing food, loss of appetite, black stools, or blood in stools. If cancer has progressed to the advanced stage, you may experience long-standing reflux and unexplained weight loss. Some of the risk factors for upper gastrointestinal cancer are heredity, alcohol infection, smoking, and radiation exposure.

How to diagnose Upper Gastrointestinal Cancer?

If patients exhibit signs and symptoms and the healthcare provider suspects a diagnosis of gastrointestinal cancer, an endoscopy can be performed to check the lining of the small intestine, stomach, and oesophagus for tumours. A biopsy can also be performed to diagnose upper gastrointestinal cancer. If the patient needs specialized care without the need to spend a night in a hospital, daycare can fill the gap.

For better outcomes, your doctor may order cross-sectional imaging like an MRI scan, CT scan and PET-CET scan. These procedures are safe and play a huge role in managing the symptoms of patients with upper gastrointestinal cancer. They can be used at all points along the care pathway- in the initial staging of disease extent, for evaluating response to treatment and for checking any residual mass after the treatment. Radiation exposure can also be used in permissible amounts as a curative therapy for cancer patients.

Upper Gastrointestinal Cancer Treatment Options

The treatment options will vary depending on the stage of cancer. Surgery can be done for gastrointestinal cancer with the traditional open procedure or a minimally invasive laparoscopic procedure. The recovery time of minimally invasive procedures is quicker than open surgery. Chemotherapy can also be used to stop the progression of cancer cells either by stopping them from dividing or killing them. Photodynamic therapy can also be used to kill cancer cells. Detailed intra-operative assessments should also be done to ensure that the treatment is successful.

In some cases, gastrectomy needs to be done to eliminate the risk of cancer. In this procedure, all or a few parts of the stomach are removed surgically. Surgery provides long-term survival, and experienced surgeons work closely with other providers to ensure you receive complete and coordinated care. Radiotherapy can also be used to shrink tumours and kill cancer cells. Radiation therapy can also be given alongside chemotherapy for effective results. During this procedure, high-powered energy beams are used to kill cancer cells. The beams are released from protons, X-rays, or other sources. It may not be an effective treatment option for stage 1 cancer. It can be used after surgery if the cancer has not been removed completely.

Dr. Azhar Perwaiz
Meet The Doctor
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