Cancer / Tumor

Cancer can start anywhere in the body. It starts when cells begin to grow out of control and crowd normal cells. This causes problems in the part of the body where the cancer started. Cancer cells can also spread to other parts of the body. When cancer cells spread, it’s called metastasis.

COLORECTAL CANCER

Cancer that begins in the colon is called a colon cancer, while cancer in the rectum is known as a rectal cancer. Cancers affecting either of these organs also may be referred to as a colorectal cancer.

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS

Many people with colon cancer experience no symptoms in the early stages of the disease. When symptoms appear, they may vary depending on the cancer’s size and location in the large intestine. Signs and symptoms of colon cancer may include:

  • A change in your bowel habits, including diarrhoea or constipation or a change in the consistency of your stool, that lasts longer than four weeks
  • Rectal bleeding or blood in your stool
  • Persistent abdominal discomfort, such as cramps, gas or pain
  • A feeling that your bowel doesn't empty completely
  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Unexplained weight loss

DIAGNOSIS

Colorectal cancer is described clinically by the stages at which it is discovered. The various stages of a colorectal cancer are determined by the depth of invasion through the wall of the intestine; the involvement of the lymph nodes (the drainage nodules); and the spread to other organs (metastases).

To check for early colon cancer, doctors recommend certain screening tests for healthy people. But, if the signs and symptoms indicate that one has colon cancer, a doctor may recommend one or more tests and procedures, including:

  • Faecal occult blood tests
  • Colonoscopy
  • Sigmoidoscopy
  • Virtual colonoscopy

After diagnosis, the doctor will order tests to determine the extent (stage) of your cancer.

TREATMENT

Treatment will depend on the type and stage of the cancer, and the age, health status, and other characteristics of the patient. The most common options for colon cancer are surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. Treatments seek to remove the cancer and relieve any painful symptoms.

  • Surgery for early-stage colon cancer

    • Removing polyps during a colonoscopy
    • Endoscopic mucosal resection
    • Minimally invasive surgery
  • Surgery for invasive colon cancer

    • Partial colectomy
    • Surgery to create a way for waste to leave your body (Ostomy)
    • Lymph node removal
  • Surgery for advanced cancer

Other options are

  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiotherapy
  • Targeted Therapy

STOMACH CANCER

Gastric cancer, or stomach cancer, is a malignancy (unrestrained growth of abnormal tissue) of the lining of the stomach.

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS

Early-stage stomach cancers are hard to detect as they rarely show symptoms, unless it is at an advanced stage (spreads to other areas of body).  One should consult a doctor early for detection of causes and follow up treatment on observation of any of the following signs and symptoms:

  • Poor appetite
  • Weight loss (without trying)
  • Abdominal (belly) pain
  • Vague discomfort in the abdomen, usually above the navel
  • A sense of fullness in the upper abdomen after eating a small meal
  • Heartburn or indigestion
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting, with or without blood
  • Swelling or fluid build-up in the abdomen
  • Blood in the stool
  • Low red blood cell count (anaemia)

DIAGNOSIS

If suspected, a doctor would order further investigation. This includes:

  • Blood tests: for anaemia and assessing liver function
  • Barium meal X-ray
  • Upper gastrointestinal endoscopy
  • Imaging – to discover if or how far the cancer has spread (staging) may involve scans, including ultrasound, CT or MRI to look at the stomach, liver and lymph nodes and PET scan.

This process of investigation  is called staging when the spread of cancer is assessed based on the depth of  tumour invasion  into the stomach wall, check any effect on lymph glands and  the spread  to other organs like liver or lungs. This will help determine the possible treatment and the likely outcome.

TREATMENT

The treatment options for cancer depend upon the stage of the cancer. The best approach uses two or more of the following treatment methods.

ESOPHAGEAL CANCER

Cancer of the esophagus (also called esophageal cancer) starts in the inner layer (the mucosa) and grows outward (through the submucosa and the muscle layer).

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS

  • Trouble swallowing
  • Chest pain
  • Weight loss

Other symptoms

Other possible symptoms of cancer of the esophagus can include:

  • Hoarseness
  • Chronic cough
  • Vomiting
  • Hiccups
  • Bone pain
  • Bleeding into the esophagus.

The above symptoms don’t necessarily mean that one has esophageal cancer as many of them are likely caused by other conditions. Still, if one has any of these symptoms, especially trouble swallowing, it’s important to have a doctor check it out so that the cause can be found and treated, if needed.

DIAGNOSIS

If esophageal cancer is suspected, exams and tests need to confirm the diagnosis. If cancer is found, further tests will be done to help determine the extent (stage) of the cancer.

Screening is the process of looking for cancer or pre-cancer in people who have no symptoms of the disease. This is because no screening test has been shown to lower the risk of dying from esophageal cancer in people who are at average risk.

However, people who have a high risk of esophageal cancer are often followed closely to look for early cancers and pre-cancers.

Test for Esophageal Cancer

  • Medical history and physical exam
  • Imaging tests to look for esophageal cancer
  • Barium meal test
  • Computed tomography (CT or CAT) scan
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan
  • Positron emission tomography (PET) scan
  • Endoscopy
  • Endoscopic ultrasound
  • Bronchoscopy
  • Thoracoscopy and laparoscopy
  • Lab tests of biopsy samples
  • Blood tests

TREATMENT

Local treatments:

Some treatments are called local therapies, meaning they treat the tumour in a specific location, without affecting the rest of the body. Types of local therapy used for esophageal cancer include:

  • Surgery
  • Radiation therapy
  • Endoscopic treatments

Systemic treatments:

These are treatments that involve drugs which can be given by mouth or directly into the bloodstream. And as they travel through your whole system, allowing them to reach cancer cells almost anywhere in the body, they are called systemic therapies. Depending on the type of esophageal cancer, several different types of drugs might be used, including:

  • Chemotherapy
  • Targeted therapy
  • Immunotherapy

Depending on the stage of the cancer and other factors, different types of treatment may be combined at the same time or used after one another.

Some of these treatments can also be used as palliative treatment when all the cancer cannot be removed. Palliative treatment is meant to relieve symptoms, such as pain and trouble swallowing, but it is not expected to cure the cancer.

 

Reference

https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-basics/what-is-cancer.html

https://www.cancer.org/cancer/colon-rectal-cancer.html

https://www.cancer.org/cancer/stomach-cancer.html

https://www.cancer.org/cancer/esophagus-cancer.html

https://medlineplus.gov/magazine/issues/spring09/articles/spring09pg7-8.html

https://www.healthline.com/health/gastric-cancer