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Gastrointestinal Malignant and Pre-Malignant Conditions

What are Gastrointestinal Malignant and Pre-Malignant Conditions?

Gastrointestinal malignancies are cancerous tumours or lesions that may arise anywhere in the gastrointestinal system which includes the stomach, oesophagus, gallbladder, liver, bile duct, colon, rectum, and anus. Pre-malignant conditions of the gastrointestinal system are characterized by abnormal lesions or cells that have a high risk of developing into gastrointestinal cancer.

Types of Gastrointestinal Malignant and Pre-Malignant Conditions 

The different types of gastrointestinal malignancies include:

  • Stomach Cancer
  • Oesophagal Cancer
  • Liver Cancer
  • Pancreatic Cancer
  • Liver Cancer 
  • Colon Cancer
  • Rectal Cancer
  • Anal Cancer

The different types of gastrointestinal pre-malignant conditions include:

  • Barrett’s oesophagus 
  • Chronic gastritis with or without H. pylori infection
  • Intestinal metaplasia
  • Adenomatous polyps

Risk factors for Gastrointestinal Malignancy 

The cause for gastrointestinal malignancy is unclear. However, numerous risk factors have been identified which include: 

  • Smoking and excessive alcohol use
  • High-fat diet
  • Obesity
  • Increasing age 
  • Chronic pancreatitis 

Symptoms of Gastrointestinal Malignancy 

Common symptoms of gastrointestinal malignancy include:

  • Abdominal discomfort, pain, or tenderness
  • Change in bowel habits
  • Rectal bleeding or presence of blood in the stool
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Unintentional weight loss

Diagnosis of Gastrointestinal Malignancy or Pre-Malignant Conditions

Common diagnostic procedures for the evaluation of gastrointestinal malignancy or pre-malignant conditions include:

  • Advanced Imaging Tests:  These tests include computed tomography (CT) scans, ultrasound imaging, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and positron emission tomography (PET) scans which produce detailed images of the gastrointestinal tract and associated structures. 
  • Upper GI Endoscopy: This procedure involves the use of an endoscope, which is a flexible tube containing a miniature camera and a light source, that is inserted through the mouth to examine the upper gastrointestinal region.  
  • Colonoscopy: This procedure involves the use of a colonoscope, which is like an endoscope. It is inserted through the rectum and advanced through the large intestine to look for polyps or other precancerous or cancerous lesions.
  • Biopsy: A sample of tissue may be obtained with endoscopy or colonoscopy which is sent to the laboratory to identify cancerous or precancerous changes in the gastrointestinal tract.

Prognosis of Gastrointestinal Malignancy or Pre-Malignant Conditions

Most gastrointestinal malignancies develop over a long period of time and when diagnosis of the condition is made at a premalignant or early cancer stage it greatly improves prognosis.

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