Gastrointestinal Cancer

Overview of gastrointestinal cancer

Gastrointestinal (GI) cancer includes all cancers in your digestive tract organs such as the stomach, large and small intestine, pancreas, colon, liver, rectum, anus, and biliary system.

If you're experiencing troublesome GI symptoms or want to understand more about this disease our team of experts are here to assist. Dignity Health will support you throughout all stages of gastrointestinal cancer.


In the beginning phases of GI cancer, you could not be exhibiting any symptoms. It is almost impossible to be able to feel GI cancers when they begin to grow.

As a result, GI cancers are typically detected through screenings, before any symptoms occur. Sometimes, they are diagnosed once they've advanced to the point that they are creating symptoms at a more severe level.

When GI cancer is extensive enough to cause symptoms, they may include:

  • Abdominal cramping or pain
  • Bloody or very dark stool
  • Changes in bowel habits, such as diarrhea, constipation, or changes in consistency or narrowing of the stool
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Digestive problems
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and skin)
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Swelling in the abdomen
  • Tiredness, weakness, weight loss, or loss of appetite
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GI tract starts to change and develop, causing tumors, and eventually spreading to lymph nodes and other organs. Health professionals do not know the exact cause that causes GI cancer. But, the damage to cells can increase the probability that abnormalities may develop, and they could result from obesity, infections smoking, or other environmental risk factors.

For thoracic cancers, lifestyle factors like diet, body weight, and smoking especially play a role. In fact, Smoking can be linked to 90% instances of cancers found in the lungs and it also significantly increase the chance of developing esophageal cancer. tract starts to change and develop, causing tumors, and eventually spreading to lymph nodes and other organs.


Gastrointestinal (GI) cancer affects the organs of your digestive tract. GI cancers include:

Risk factors

GI cancer risk factors vary for each type. However, lifestyle factors may play a role in many of them. These include obesity, not exercising, smoking, poor diet, and heavy alcohol use. Family history may also make you more likely to develop the disease. Other risk factors include:


Early detection is the most important way to prevent serious GI cancer. Screening tests for Gastrointestinal Cancer identify rectal and colon cancers in their early, highly manageable stages. These tests can detect cancer before it begins to manifest.

Colonoscopy is a common cancer screening tool, but there are others. Talk with your doctor about options and if/when you should start screening.

Because some risk factors are linked to the overall state of health as well as wellbeing and prevention of GI cancers begins by living a healthy and balanced lifestyle. You can help reduce your risk of GI cancer with a balanced diet, regular physical activity, not smoking, and limiting how much alcohol you drink.

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Services of Gastrointestinal Cancer