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What are Gastrointestinal Screenings: Benefits and side effects of screening

Introduction

Screening is looking for cancer before the person has shown any symptoms. When any cancer-related tissues are found, it becomes easier to treat the cancer in the early stages. In this article, you will know the gastrointestinal screenings for stomach (gastric) cancer and the risks associated with it. 

Stomach (Gastric) Cancer

Stomach is a J-shaped organ that is a part of the digestive system which helps in processing the various nutrients in foods. In stomach cancer, cells abnormally grow from any part of the stomach and spread throughout the stomach. The risk factors of stomach cancer 

Symptoms of Stomach (Gastric) Cancer

Signs and symptoms of stomach (gastric) cancer include,

Symptoms of Stomach (Gastric) Cancer
  • Trouble swallowing 
  • Black colored stools 
  • Feeling tired 
  • Weight loss 
  • Nausea 
  • Vomiting 
  • Indigestion 
  • Heartburn 
  • Bloating 
  • Belly pain

Risk Factors Of Stomach

There are many risk factors of stomach cancers like,

Risk Factors Of Stomach
  • Having Helicobacter pylori infection, Epstein-Barr virus infection, chronic gastric atrophy or pernicious anaemia. 
  • Presence of polyps in the stomach
  • Having family members who are affected by gastric cancer 
  • Having a diet that is high in salt and with fewer fibers
  • Eating too many processed foods 
  • Smoking cigarettes

Stomach (Gastric) Cancer Screening

Several types of screening tests are used to find the presence of stomach cancer. They are, 

  • Barium Meal Gastric Photofluorography 

The patient swallows the white metallic compound, barium which coats the oesophagus and stomach. The barium increases the visibility of the internal organs and are later seen through series of x-ray imaging. 

  • Upper Endoscopy 

In upper endoscopy, an endoscope (a thin the like instrument with light and lens) is passed into the mouth through the oesophagus to inspect the digestive tract from stomach to duodenum (upper part of intestine). 

  • Serum Pepsinogen Levels 

This is the test that measures serum pepsinogen levels in the blood. Low levels of serum pepsinogen leads to chronic gastric atrophy which can lead to stomach cancer. 

Side Effects Of Screening

Though gastric screening can be useful in identifying stomach cancers, there are side effects like,

Side Effects Of Screening
  • Endoscopy-induced infection 
  • Heart or lung problems 
  • Severe bleeding that can be life-threatening 
  • Allergic reactions to medicines used in screening procedures

Risks Of Stomach (Gastric) Screening

Other than side effects of screening gastric cancers, there are also few risks of tests like,

  • Finding Out Stomach Cancer May Not Prove Life-saving 

If you have advanced stomach cancer, screening tests may not help you to live longer or get treated as most cancers don’t show enough symptoms during early stages. 

  • False Negatives Can Occur 

There are many chances of false negative and such a person may delay the medical treatment, which could have probably made them live longer. 

  • False Positives Can Occur

A false positive can also occur which is usually followed by more procedures that also holds many risks and side effects.