Gastrointestinal Cancer - Stages and Types of Gastrointestinal Cancer

What Is Gastrointestinal Cancer?

The gastrointestinal tract (GIT) comprises several organs that digest and absorb food and excrete waste metabolites. The gastrointestinal tract comprises the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, colon, rectum, and anus. Other organs that help digest food include the liver and pancreas.

Different GIT organs have different types of cells, including mucus-secreting cells, glandular cells, neuroendocrine cells, and epithelial cells, and these play a pivotal role in the optimum functioning of the different gastrointestinal tract organs.

Due to mutations in one or more cells of the gastrointestinal tract, the cells divide without any control, resulting in the formation of a tumor. If not diagnosed and treated early, the tumor may spread to other organs of the gastrointestinal tract, lymph nodes, or nearby and distant organs, such as the lungs or bones.

Primary GIT cancer starts in the GIT, while metastatic GIT cancer forms in other organs and spreads to one or more organs of the GIT.

How common is Gastrointestinal Cancer?

Gastrointestinal carcinoma is one of the most common cancers. Despite the advancements in the diagnosis and management of GIT cancer, it is still one of the most common reasons for cancer-related deaths. Different types of gastrointestinal tumors have different incidence rates. Although there are reports of a reduction in the incidence of some types of gastrointestinal cancers, these cancers pose a healthcare challenge.

What are the Different Types of Gastrointestinal Cancer?

Based on the organs that they arise from, GI cancers are categorized into various types. The following are the different types of gastrointestinal tumors:

What are the Gastrointestinal Cancer Stages?

Gastrointestinal cancer staging is done to evaluate the extent of the disease’s spread. The staging parameters may slightly vary for different types of gastrointestinal cancer. In general, the following are the important gastrointestinal cancer stages:


Gastrointestinal cancer develops in the gastrointestinal tract, which includes the esophagus, small intestine, stomach, large intestine, colon, rectum, and anus. It also includes cancers of the liver and pancreas. The staging of gastrointestinal cancer is done to understand how far the disease has spread. Stages I and II refer to the early stages of GI cancer, whereas stage IV is the most advanced stage of gastrointestinal cancer.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, if left untreated, gastrointestinal cancer not only spreads to other gastrointestinal organs but also to distant organs, such as the lungs and bones.

Colon cancer and stomach cancer are the most common types of GI cancer in the world. In India, esophageal cancer and stomach cancer are the most common types of GI cancer.

Some rare types of gastrointestinal cancers include cholangiocarcinoma, appendiceal cancer, hereditary diffuse gastric cancer, and fibrolamellar hepatocellular carcinoma.

GI cancers are highly treatable, and the survival rates are excellent, especially if the disease is diagnosed and treated in the early stages.

Treatment of gastrointestinal cancer depends on the stage of diagnosis, response to treatment, overall health of the patient, and location of the cancer.

Gastrointestinal stromal tumors generally develop in the small intestine and stomach. It arises from the interstitial cells of Cajal, which are a special form of cell present in the GI tract. This condition is characterized by the formation of one or many tumors.

GI cancer is common in India, and the incidence varies among GI cancers. The most common GI cancers in India include esophageal cancer, stomach cancer, colon cancer, liver cancer, and rectal cancer.

People should not ignore any of the symptoms that are persistent and cause discomfort. Although most symptoms of cancer overlap with other common and less serious GI conditions, it is important to rule out underlying serious conditions.