Gastrointestinal cancer refers to any malignancy of the digestive tract and its organs, including the esophagus, stomach and bowels, as well as the pancreas and the biliary system. While gastrointestinal cancer is very rare in children, Pediatric cancer screenings may be necessary for children with family history of gastrointestinal cancers and multiple intestinal polyps.
Did you know…
that colon cancer can develop as early as the teen years in children with inherited polyposis syndrome? This rare genetic condition causes intestinal polyps and almost always eventually develops into malignancy. At WNY Pediatric Gastroenterology pediatric gastrointestinal cancer screening can help detect changes within the digestive tract and provide preventive surveillance in young patients at high risk of developing gastrointestinal cancer.
Cancers of the gastrointestinal tract may cause varied symptoms depending on the stage of the disease and the areas affected. GI cancers often cause unexplained weight loss, bloating and changes in bowel habits. GI cancer may also cause fecal bleeding or abdominal pain. Ask your child’s doctor for a referral to WNY Pediatric Gastroenterology, if your child is experiencing any of these symptoms.
Your child should be screened if he or she is exhibiting symptoms of potential GI cancer or if you have a family history of inherited polyposis syndrome. In these children, screenings may begin as early as age 10, as early diagnosis improves long term prognosis. These screenings are typically necessary for life, as the risks of developing colorectal cancer and other digestive cancers increases over time.
GI cancer screenings are not common in children, though we are equipped with cutting edge medical technology capable of detecting malignancies in their earliest stages. Of the children who undergo GI cancer screening, most undergo a colonoscopy to examine the intestinal walls for polyps and lesions. Other GI cancer screenings include endoscopy for the stomach and esophagus, as well as imaging scans to detect cancers of the digestive organs like the pancreas.