Gastrointestinal cancer is a broad term for cancers of the digestive tract including the stomach, colon, intestines, rectum, pancreas, liver and esophagus. The risk factors for developing this disease are multiple, as with many forms of cancer. For stomach and esophageal cancer, heavy alcohol use can be a factor. For colorectal cancer in men, the disease often starts in the prostate. Other risk factors include, tobacco use, the high-fat diet, age, a history of digestive problems, and exposure to toxic chemicals that can cause abrasions in the throat or stomach.
Gastrointestinal Cancer and Asbestos
Individuals who are frequently exposed to high levels of non-occupational exposure to asbestos may also face an increased risk of developing gastrointestinal cancer. An overview of 42 epidemiological studies on this question was conducted by the National Academies in 2006, which cited the lack of specific research on the question of asbestos-related gastrointestinal cancer. There was, at that time, very little research on record conducted with lab animals. The Committee concluded that the evidence was suggestive but not sufficient to infer a causal relationship.
Researchers have established some linkage between gastrointestinal cancer and asbestos exposure, although by medical standards it is not conclusive. In two different studies, which evaluated 20,000 employees who were regularly exposed to high levels of workplace exposure to asbestos found that these workers had almost double the risk of developing gastrointestinal cancer as those in the general population. The 17,800 workers in the large study evaluated here were members of a union whose members were at relatively high risk for asbestos exposure.
Symptoms of Gastrointestinal Cancer
Gastrointestinal cancer can affect a number of important organs and metastasizes fairly quickly. Usually the early stages of the disease reveal few signs and symptoms. Once the cancer spreads, some common symptoms may include:
- Abdominal pain and discomfort
- Nausea and vomiting
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Loss of appetite
- Severe weight loss
- Weakness and fatigue
Cancer of the liver and pancreatic cancer exhibit other sets of symptoms, but include the weakness and abdominal pain. It is vital that you consult with a physician immediately if you experience any of these symptoms of gastrointestinal cancer.
Have You Suffered Harm from an Asbestos-Related Illness?
If you or a loved one has suffered a serious asbestos-related injury or illness such as gastrointestinal cancer, you may be eligible to file an asbestos lawsuit to recover your losses including lost income capacity, medical expenses, pain and suffering, and more. A qualified asbestos lawyer can evaluate your case to determine your legal options, protect your rights, and maximize your interests.
- Gastrointestinal Cancers, The American College of Gastroenterology, http://www.acg.gi.org/patients/gihealth/cancers.asp
- Asbestos: Selected Cancers, Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, 2006, http://books.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=11665&page=R1
- Epidemiology of Gastrointestinal Cancer, Environmental Health Perspectives, NIH, Selikoff, 1974, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1475395/pdf/envhper00499-0290.pdf
- Gastrointestinal Cancer, University of California/San Francisco Medical Center, http://www.ucsfhealth.org/adult/medical_services/cancer/gastrointestinal/conditions/stomach/signs.html