Facts About Abdominal Cancer
Abdominal cancer is a growth on any organ in the abdominal area of abnormal cells. There are different types of growths under the category of abdominal cancer, including stomach cancer, renal cancer, liver cancer, colon cancer, uterine and ovarian cancer. The most common type of cancer in the abdominal area is colorectal cancer, or cancer growths in the colon or rectum. Many types of cancer in the abdomen are curable if caught early, including uterine and ovarian cancer. If not diagnosed in the early stages and allowed to grow unchecked, many types of cancer in the abdominal area can spread to other systems in the body.
Abdominal cancer can have varying symptoms, depending on the type of cancer. Unfortunately for patients and doctors, many types of cancer in the abdomen may have no symptoms in the early stages. However, some symptoms are common for different types. Generally, symptoms can include abdominal pain or discomfort, rapid weight loss, loss of appetite, fever, fatigue or difficulty swallowing. Cancer in the intestinal area can cause difficulty urinating, blood in the stool or urine, intestinal obstruction, or change in bowel movements. Cancer in the reproductive system has certain symptoms like heavy menstrual bleeding in women and erectile dysfunction in men. Cancers associated specific organs also have specific symptoms. For example, liver cancer patients may suffer from jaundice or kidney cancer may cause bleeding from the kidneys or back pain near the kidneys. Some forms of cancer in the abdomen may cause peritonitis, or infection in the abdominal cavity.
A diagnosis of any kind of abdominal cancer will involve a doctor taking a personal medical history as well as a family medical history to check for cancer in family members. Risk factors for cancer such as smoking will also be considered. The most important part of a diagnosis is a thorough physical examination and testing to rule out symptoms of other gastrointestinal diseases because many cancer symptoms are similar to those of other medical problems in the abdominal area. A combination of certain tests is used to diagnose cancer in the abdominal region. These tests may include CT or MRI scans, ultrasound scans, blood tests, and scans of the colon. Colon scans may include a colonoscopy or a barium X-ray test. An endoscopy, a procedure where doctors pass a camera through the esophagus and into the stomach, will look for cancers in the esophagus or stomach. Doctors may perform a biopsy of growths if they are found to determine if the tumor is malignant or benign. A benign tumor is a growth of cells that will not spread and has stopped growing, while a malignant tumor is a growth of cancer cells that is still growing and in danger of taking over nearby areas or organs. A biopsy is a procedure in which the doctors take a small sample of the tumor and look at it under a microscope to look for cancer cells.
As with any serious illness, treatment begins with prevention. Regular checkups at the doctor and management of gastrointestinal disorders or symptoms is key to catching cancer early. The treatment of cancer of the abdominal area may vary depending on the type of cancer, its location, the stage of the disease and the patient’s overall health. If the cancer cells are confined to an area that will not harm the patient if removed, doctors may perform surgery to remove cancer cells. For most cases of colon cancer that are caught early, surgical removal of the cancer cells, commonly called a polyp in colon cancer, is the usual treatment. For more advanced cases, chemotherapy or radiation therapy might be performed. Some forms of prostate cancer are treated with hormone drugs that slow the growth of cancer cells.