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At GIDOCJHB, we conduct colon, liver, stomach, and pancreas cancer screening.

We also works closely with patients to help them achieve good nutrition and manage digestive issues.

In this article, we’ll be explaining colorectal and stomach cancer and the importance of cancer screening in diagnosing and treating cancer.

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What is Colorectal/Colon Cancer Screening?

Colorectal cancer screening looks for polyps and traces of cancer in the colon and rectum in their early stages of being, before they cause any symptoms.

When a person has symptoms, diagnostic tests are used to find out the cause of the symptoms.

Detecting cancers early on reduces the likelihood of spread to other areas of the body, which increases overall survival rates, and the need for long term therapy decreases.

It usually takes about 5 to 10 years for a small polyp to develop into colon cancer. This gives your gastroenterologist a window of opportunity to screen, as well as the ability to prevent new polyps from forming.

Screening is most accomplished with the help of an instrument called a colonoscope, which allows a gastroenterologist to find polyps and remove them before they have a chance to develop into cancer.

By detecting polyps in their early stages, they are usually smaller, and their removal becomes easier and safer.

To find out more about Colorectal cancer in South Africa, click here

Stage 0 colorectal cancer is the earliest stage. The stages progress up to stage 4, which is the most advanced stage. Here are the stages of colorectal cancer in more detail

Stage 0

This is the earliest form of colon cancer and means it has not grown beyond the mucosa or the innermost layer of the colon.

Stage 1

Stage 1 colon cancer indicates cancer has grown into the inner layer of the colon, called the mucosa, to the next layer of the colon, called the submucosa. It has not yet spread to the lymph nodes.

Stage 2

Cancer has spread to the walls of the colon or rectum but hasn’t affected the lymph nodes or nearby tissues yet.

Stage 3

Cancer has moved to the lymph nodes but not to other parts of the body yet. Usually, one to three lymph nodes are involved at this stage.

Stage 4

Stage 4 colon cancer is classified into two categories, stage 4A, and 4B:

4A: This stage indicates that cancer has spread to one distant site, such as the liver or lungs.

4B: This most advanced stage of colon cancer indicates cancer has spread to two or more distant sites, such as the lungs and liver.

 

What is Stomach/Gastric Cancer Screening?

Screening tests for stomach cancer are typically done if the symptoms of stomach cancer are present or if a doctor suspects stomach cancer after discussing it with a patient and completing a physical examination.

Currently, no widespread screening methods or established programs for primary prevention or early detection exists.

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Medical and Physical Examinations

In a physical examination, a gastroenterologist feels the abdomen for fluid, swelling, or other changes. They will also check for swollen lymph nodes.

A gastroenterologist will then examine the medical history of a person and their family to help make a diagnosis. In taking a medical history, you might get asked questions about:

A personal history of:

  • Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection
  • Stomach surgery
  • Pernicious anemia
  • Gastritis: chronic inflammation of the stomach
  • What type of work you do or have been exposed to any occupational risk

A family history of:

  • Stomach cancer
  • Hereditary diffuse gastric cancer
  • Rare genetic conditions
  • Other risk factors that may increase the risk of developing stomach cancer (i.e. obesity, diet, smoking, H. pylori infection)
  • Presence of other cancers

 

Stomach Cancer Symptoms

In the early stages, stomach cancers often do not cause any symptoms.

Signs of stomach cancer include:

  • a painful or burning sensation in the abdomen
  • heartburn or indigestion (dyspepsia).
  • a sense of fullness, even after a small meal
  • nausea and/or vomiting
  • loss of appetite and/or weight loss
  • swelling of the abdomen
  • unexplained tiredness or weakness
  • blood in vomit
  • black-coloured faeces.

 

Stomach Cancer Staging Tests

Testing to help determine and identify the stages of stomach cancer may include:

  • Biopsies
  • Imaging testing, such as CT scan
  • Endoscopic ultrasound
  • Laparoscopy

 

Stomach Cancer Stages

Stage 0 stomach cancer is the earliest stage. The stages progress up to stage 4, which is the most advanced stage. Here are the stages of stomach cancer in more detail

Stage 0:

Abnormal cells are found in the mucosa (innermost layer) of the stomach wall. These abnormal cells may become cancerous and spread to nearby normal tissue.

Stage 1A:

Cancer has grown no further than the lining of the stomach. There is no cancer in the lymph nodes.

Stage 1B:

Has formed in the mucosa (innermost layer) of the stomach wall and may have spread to the submucosa (layer of tissue next to the mucosa).

Cancer has spread to 1 or 2 nearby lymph nodes, or has formed in the mucosa of the stomach wall and has spread to the muscle layer.

Stage 2A:

One of the following applies:

  • has spread to the subserosa (layer of tissue next to the serosa) of the stomach wall; or
  • has spread to the muscle layer of the stomach wall and is found in 1 or 2 lymph nodes near the tumor; or
  • may have spread to the submucosa (layer of tissue next to the mucosa) of the stomach wall and is found in 3 to 6 lymph nodes near the tumor.

Stage 2B:

One of the following applies:

  • has spread to the serosa (outermost layer) of the stomach wall; or
  • has spread to the subserosa (layer of tissue next to the serosa) of the stomach wall and is found in 1 or 2 lymph nodes near the tumor; or
  • has spread to the muscle layer of the stomach wall and is found in 3 to 6 lymph nodes near the tumor

Stage 3: 

More advanced regional spread than Stage 2.

Stage 4:

Cancer has spread to other parts of the body (called distant metastasis), such as to the lungs, bone, peritoneum, or omentum. This is also called metastatic stomach cancer.

 

 

DISCLAIMER: PLEASE READ CAREFULLY

The information on this website is to provide general guidance. In no way does any of the information provided reflect definitive medical advice and self-diagnoses should not be made based on information obtained online. It is important to consult a Gastroenterologist or medical doctor regarding ANY and ALL symptoms or signs including, but not limited to: abdominal pain, haemorrhoids or anal / rectal bleeding as it may a sign of a serious illness or condition. A thorough consultation and examination should ALWAYS be performed for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. Be sure to call a physician or call our office today and schedule a consultation.