Gastrointestinal cancer is cancer that affects the organs in the digestive system, including the esophagus, stomach, pancreas, gallbladder, liver, small and large intestine, anus and rectum. It is characterized by the uncontrolled growth of normal cells that make up the digestive tract. The exact cause of gastrointestinal cancer is not clear. However, certain risk factors such as excessive alcohol intake, smoking, advanced age, diet rich in animal fat and salt, poorly preserved food and obesity may increase your risk of developing gastrointestinal cancer.
Symptoms of gastrointestinal cancer may include abdominal pain, discomfort or tenderness, change in shape, frequency or consistency of bowels, blood in stool, bloating, vomiting, nausea, fatigue, loss of appetite and unintentional weight loss.
Your doctor diagnoses gastrointestinal cancer by performing a thorough physical examination and reviewing your medical history. Certain tests may be ordered to assist and confirm the diagnosis, which includes:
These tests help identify the location and stage (stage 0 to stage 4, in order of severity) of cancer, which is important for designing the treatment plan.