Singer Deise Cipriano, a member of the Fat Family group, was diagnosed with cancer in the digestive tract region and has already started the first chemotherapy session. These types of tumors represent a large fraction of neoplasms. But, the good news is that when diagnosed at an early stage, this type of cancer has a high potential for cure.
According to the WHO, about 18 million people will be diagnosed with cancer in 2018. This number is higher than the last study released in 2012 when it reached 14 million. Of the subtypes of tumors that affect the digestive system the most incident are stomach and colorectal.
According to the Inca (National Cancer Institute), stomach cancer is the third most prevalent among men over 50 and the fifth most common in Brazil. Also known as gastric cancer, stomach cancer appears in 95% of cases as adenocarcinoma, a tumor originating in cells that line the internal part of the organ.
The disease can spread, invading other organs, lymph vessels and nearby lymph nodes. There are other, rarer types of stomach cancer, such as lymphoma, leiomyosarcoma and carcinoid tumor.
“The development of the disease usually happens very slowly. Over the years, precancerous changes may slowly appear in the cells of the stomach lining. As this rarely causes symptoms, these changes may go unnoticed or be confused with other diseases ”, comments Felipe Ades, oncologist at the Centro Paulista de Oncologia (CPO) – unit of the Oncoclínicas Group in São Paulo.
Because it has many nonspecific symptoms, common to other diseases, sometimes the patient takes time to seek specialized support. Among the signs of stomach cancer are weight loss, tiredness, lack of appetite, nausea and vomiting, a feeling of poor digestion, heartburn and persistent abdominal discomfort, gastric bleeding (more uncommon), blood in the stools, dark, pasty and pasty stools. very strong odor (indicative of the presence of occult blood).
In the face of suspected stomach cancer, two tests are among the most frequent tests for diagnosing the disease: modern upper digestive endoscopy is used, but contrast stomach radiography can still be used.
Endoscopy allows direct visual assessment of the lesion and biopsies to confirm the diagnosis through anatomopathological examination. Through the mouth a thin and flexible tube with a camera at the end is conducted to the organ. The patient is sedated to feel less discomfort, the exam is done with the patient sleeping a few times. On the radiography, the doctor analyzes the radiographic film in search of abnormal areas or tumors.
After the pathological confirmation of the presence of the tumor through the biopsy exam, it is important to carry out the tests for staging, that is, to quantify the size of the disease in the body. “These exams can vary, but they commonly include computed tomography of the abdomen and pelvis, simple radiography (or tomography) of the chest and blood tests”, emphasizes Dr. Felipe.
Considered as the third most incident in the world. In Brazil, the National Cancer Institute (INCA) estimates an average of 36 thousand new cases registered, reaching both genders in equal proportion. Most of the symptoms of the disease are related to intestinal behavior, including diarrhea or constipation, thin stools and that have blood and / or mucous. Frequent bloating in the abdominal area, gas, fatigue or lack of energy and sudden weight loss are also part of the list of possible symptoms. In addition, people who have polyps (benign lesions) are more likely to develop tumors.
And the incidence of the disease has increased among the younger population, under 50 years old. A survey released by the American Cancer Society (ACS) American Cancer Society) in 2017 revealed that the incidence rate of colorectal tumors among people of adulthood born in the 1990s has been steadily increasing year on year. According to the survey, the so-called Millennials have twice the risk of developing cancer in the colon (large intestine segment) and four times more likely to receive a diagnosis of cancer in the rectum compared to the generation Baby Boomers, individuals aged 55 and over.
According to the clipping presented by the ACS, five out of every one million people in the age group between 20 and 29 years old will have the disease, while considering men and women born in the 1950s, this variation dropped to three out of every one million. For Dr. Andrey Soares, oncologist at Centro Paulista de Oncologia (CPO), São Paulo unit of Grupo Oncoclínicas, the main causes of this change in patient profile are related to bad daily habits: lack of physical exercise and poor food intake in vitamins and fibers, factors that also contribute to overweight and obesity – a global epidemic that affects 1.9 billion people globally, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
“Colon tumors and rectum are even more prevalent among the elderly. However, of the current total of patients currently diagnosed in the USA, 30% are under 55 years of age. And this percentage should continue to increase over the next few years if awareness measures are not taken about the causes and importance of early diagnosis for the treatment of the disease ”, he explains.
Considering the risk factors that increase the likelihood of developing the disease, Dr. Andrey highlights some inherited conditions, inflammatory bowel diseases and hyperprotein diets and low consumption of fiber and calcium.
“People with a family history of this type of tumor or who have hereditary conditions such as chronic ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease, for example, are part of a group that must always remain alert. But we must not forget that other risk factors can be avoided by a simple change in habits related to a balanced diet, regular practice of physical exercises and weight control ”, emphasizes the expert.
Colonoscopy is the standard test for investigating diseases of the colon and rectum. In cases of suspected cancer, this examination can determine the location of the lesion and allow a biopsy to confirm the malignancy. Today, the recommendation for people at medium risk is that it be performed at 50 years of age and repeated every ten years.
“In the face of evidence that more and more young people are developing tumors, ASC researchers suggest that screening start earlier, at age 40, for those with a family history of colorectal cancer or adenomas in a first-degree relative. But more than establishing an age-related protocol, it is necessary to assess each case individually, taking into account both in prevention and treatment, personal habits and hereditary factors for a more assertive approach ”, concludes Dr. Andrey Soares.
Founded more than three decades ago by clinical oncologists Sergio Simon and Rene Gansl, the Centro Paulista de Oncologia CPO, São Paulo unit of the Oncoclínicas Group, offers comprehensive and individualized care to cancer patients. With a clinical staff of more than 50 oncologists and hematologists and a trained multiprofessional team composed of: psychologists, nutritionists, pharmacists, clinical pharmacists, nurses, reflexologists and a doctor specializing in Integrative Medicine. It offers oncological and hematological medical consultations, outpatient application of chemotherapy, immunobiologicals and support medications, multidisciplinary outpatient assistance, in addition to a 24-hour telephone support service for patients and medical monitoring during hospital admissions.
The CPO has Canadian diamond accreditation (Accreditation Canada), from the Canadian Council on Health Services Accreditation, which gives the service the certificates of “excellence in management and assistance” and qualifies the institution in the exercise of the best practices of medicine in accordance international assessment standards. The institution also has an international partnership with the Dana Farber Institute / Harvard Cancer Center, which guarantees the possibility of exchanging information between Brazilian and American specialists, as well as discussing clinical cases. In addition, it provides continuing medical education to the CPO clinical staff and medical specialists, with classes and events with novelties in studies and advances in the treatment of the disease. Currently, the CPO has two service units in São Paulo, in the neighborhoods of Higienópolis and Vila Olímpia.
About the oncoclinic group
Founded in 2010, it is the largest group specializing in cancer treatment in Latin America. Has experience in oncology, radiotherapy and hematology in 11 Brazilian states. Currently, it has 55 units between clinics and hospital partnerships, which offer individualized treatment, based on the best clinical practice.