Common types of upper gastrointestinal cancers include tumours in the Oesophagus, Pancreas, and Stomach. These tumours are often found in the lining of tissue in each of these areas, and symptoms don’t usually occur until the tumour has grown enough in size.
Common symptoms include:
- Difficulty or pain on swallowing
- Constant reflux
- Pain in the chest, upper abdomen or in the back
- Nausea and vomiting
- Rapid weight loss
This group of cancers do have several associated risk factors and those who are concerned should seek advice from their doctor. These risk factors include:
- Family history
- Excessive drinking
- Chronic gastro-oesophageal reflux
- History of head neck cancer, coeliac disease or Plummer-Vinson syndrome
Radiation Therapy for upper gastrointestinal cancer
Surgery is the most common treatment for upper gastrointestinal cancers. However, radiation therapy may be recommended in addition to surgery, or when a patient is not suitable for an operation.
The use of intensity modulated radiotherapy, volumetric modulated arc therapy and stereotactic radiation therapy allow for optimal dose coverage of the tumour, while minimising dose to nearby organs, such as the heart, spinal cord, bowel, liver and lungs. The use of these advanced treatment techniques allows for reduced side effects and increased dose prescriptions to be delivered safely to achieve positive patient outcomes.
Brachytherapy for Gastrointestinal Cancer
High-Dose rate brachytherapy involves implantation of catheters in and around the tumour site. This allows the radioactive source to travel and stop in planned positions and achieve the required radiation dose. The benefit of this treatment approach is the extremely localised delivery of the radiation and the minimal exposure to surrounding healthy tissue