Dr Neeraj Chaudhary
Gastrointestinal cancers impact the GI tract and the digestive system including Esophagus, stomach, small and large intestines, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, etc. These cancers can originate from any organ in the abdomen as ulcers or masses and can metastasize to the other parts in no time if go unnoticed. While timely diagnosis increases the chances of better treatment and prolonged survival of the patient, delayed treatment impacts the outcome of the treatment and may also have adverse consequences on the quality of life. The rise in cases also show the low level of awareness due to which early detection isn’t possible.
From the past few years, the incidences of gastrointestinal and HPB cancer cases have been rising at an exponential rate in our country, particularly due to the lack of awareness associated with the subject. Early diagnosis and prompt treatment have significant importance in preventing mortality from such diseases. On the other hand, the rapidly growing advancements in the field of science and technology, newer treatment options like minimally invasive GI surgeries, Laparoscopic surgeries and Robotic surgeries have completely changed the face of cancer treatment at a greater scale. Minimal invasive GI surgeries have become a great addition to the field as they provide an innovative approach in the treatment of cancer while ensuring minimal blood loss, quicker recovery and shorter hospital stays.
Recent data shows that developing countries are facing a sharp increase in cancer incidence. But at the same time, there have been numerous advancements in cancer care. However, the majority of our population is not able to avail of the benefits of these developments due to a sheer lack of knowledge and myths associated with the subject.
One of the biggest reasons for the rise in such cases is lack of awareness among the general public about the early signs and symptoms which leads to delayed diagnosis and treatment causing poor prognosis. Poorlifestyle choices including unhealthy dietary intake with dependence on junk food, along with binge alcoholism and erratic sleep patterns are some of the major known causes of the exponential rise in such cases. Early and prompt treatment can help preventthe rise in GI diseases.
As per the recent data provided by Globocan 2020, GI cancers account for around 20% of all the cancer cases registered that year, amounting to 2,55,715 new cases with a mortality rate of 2,10,438 (24% of all cancer-related). While stomach cancer remains the leading cause of mortality and morbidity among all the other GI Cancers, colorectal cancers were seen profoundly in both genders accounting for at least 31646 new cases (12.3%), following oesophageal cancer. The data also suggests that males were highly susceptible to oesophageal, stomach, and colorectal cancers with a total of 1,21,277 new cases registered.
With the advancement of technologies, minimal access to cancer surgeries has also become commonplace. Experts can adequately resect difficult tumorsincluding colon cancers, stomach cancer, including liver metastases which suggest a late-stage disease, with minimal incisions or even laparoscopically, in certain cases. Minimally invasive surgeries have numerous advantages for patients in comparison to traditional surgeries including minimal scars, faster recovery, reduced pain, shorter duration of hospital stays, and lesser post-surgery complications. Thepreference for Robotic Surgery has increased after the pandemic since it reduces hospital stay and post-surgical complications.
People still need to be aware that with recent advancements in oncology, cancer is completely treatable. And early diagnosis can, not significantly increase the chances of survival, but also provide a better quality of life.
(The author is Senior Consultant & Head – Gastrointestinal, HPB, Minimal Invasive Surgery & Liver Transplant, Yatharth Super Specialty Hospital, Greater Noida.)
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