Gastrointestinal cancers, too many late diagnoses: little attention to symptoms and prevention


Gastrointestinal cancers, too many late diagnoses: little attention to symptoms and prevention
Written by aquitodovale

from Vera Martinella

Colon, stomach, pancreas, cholangiocarcinoma of the biliary tract together account for over 78 thousand new cases per year. A third could be avoided with healthy lifestyles

Persistent abdominal pain, weight loss with no obvious cause, nausea, loss of appetite, a general feeling of weakness and tiredness, blood in the stool or diarrhea. Symptoms often underestimated or confused with those of other pathologies, but that for 78 thousand Italians every year herald the discovery of a gastro-intestinal tumor. There are many new cases diagnosed every year in our country colorectal, stomach, pancreatic or biliary tract cancer. Diseases that if on the one hand are too often identified late, when they are now in an advanced stage, more difficult to treat and less likely to heal, on the other hand they can also be largely prevented with correct lifestyles. And that it is important that they are treated in centers of reference, where experienced specialists work and who meet in multidisciplinary groups. For this reason, the Italian Association of Medical Oncology (Aiom) has decided to launch a new information campaign, presented today in Rome during the second day of the Aiom national congress. «As always in oncology we need to focus on early diagnosis and effective therapies – remembers Giordano Beretta, president of the Aiom Foundation -. Time is precious and identifying a neoplasm in the early stages means being able to intervene in a less invasive way, with greater chances of eradicating it completely ».

Colon: 8 out of 10 could be avoided

This is why it is important not to neglect symptoms, even if vague, and to speak with a doctor who will decide if and which tests to do based on the individual case. Then there is a simple test that can save lives: the fecal occult blood test (Sof) is offered by the National Health Service to all citizens between the ages of 50 and 70 who receive, every two years, a letter from of your local health authority with an invitation to go to the nearest pharmacy to collect a small container in which to collect a stool sample, to then return it and receive the letter with the report at home within a couple of weeks. “With 43,700 new cases a year, it is the second most frequent type of cancer in our country and is also the second in the unlikely ranking of the most lethal – adds Beretta -: 8,700 cases a year are identified when they have already developed metastases, but nine tumors out of 10 colon infections could be avoided by detecting adenomas and polyps before they evolve into a proper carcinoma. It takes years, but half of the Italians throw the invitation to take the Sof test in the trash ».

Stomach, pancreas, cholangiocarcinoma: many late diagnoses

“For other pathologies, on the other hand, there are no screening tests that can be carried out on the entire population of a certain age – explains Saverio Cinieri, National President of AIOM. Indeed, they are silent oncological diseases that tend to appear with obvious signs when it is too late. Every year in Italy there are 14,500 diagnoses of stomach cancer, 14,300 those of the pancreas and 5,400 cholangiocarcinomas, rare cancers of the biliary tract. These are all diseases that are still too often identified in an advanced stage, not infrequently metastatic, when we have fewer effective treatments available, even if in recent years things have changed a bit and in some cases, thanks to new therapies, it improves the life expectancy of patients, in quality and quantity ». The numbers frame the problem: only 7% of gastric cancers are diagnosed in the early stages, thus the survival of patients at five years is around 30% (compared to 65% of the colon), for cholangiocarcinoma it unfortunately drops to 15% and for the pancreas it is just over 10%.

The importance of experience

«Scientific research has developed, over the last few years, gods chemotherapy treatments and innovative drugs that are progressively improving care opportunities and increasing life expectancy – says Nicola Silvestris, member of the Aiom board of directors -. We want to give hope to patients and family members and underline the importance of managing the four advanced cancers only in centers of reference and which guarantee a real multidisciplinary approach. There are several professional figures involved: oncologist, surgeon, pathologist, radiotherapist, nutritionist and psychologist. Healthcare facilities must have the right skills and technologies especially for the administration of surgical treatments. These are difficult operations and can have many complications. Emblematic in this sense is pancreatic cancer which can be cured with a scalpel in 20% of cases: various researches, including Italian ones, have clearly shown that mortality is higher in centers that operate little “.

Food, overweight, alcohol, smoking, sedentary lifestyle: this is how a third of cancers are born

Tumors of the gastrointestinal tract suffer from incorrect lifestyles

starting from the power supply. “Bad nutrition is attributable to more than 30% of all solid carcinomas – remembers Filippo Pietrantonio, member of the Aiom Board – and what we put on the plate also heavily affects the neoplasms of the digestive system. consumption of red meats and sausages, refined flours and sugars and the consumption of salty, preserved or smoked foods increase the risk of getting sick, such as excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages and smoking.
The odds also increase for those who are overweight, obese and for those who do little physical activity“. The Aiom information initiative “Quality of life in the Patient with Advanced Neoplasia in Gastro-Intestinal Cancer” (made possible by an educational grant from the Servier Group in Italy) will start in the coming weeks and includes a specific social campaign on the official accounts of the scientific society. Four webinars will then be organized close to the world days dedicated to cancer (November for pancreas and stomach; February for cholangiocarcinoma and March for colorectal).

October 2, 2022 (change October 2, 2022 | 14:43)

#Gastrointestinal #cancers #late #diagnoses #attention #symptoms #prevention


About the author


Leave a Comment