Comprising the mouth, throat, oesophagus, stomach and duodenum (first section of the small intestine), the upper
gastrointestinal (GI) tract is responsible for the initial phase of digestion. Surgery may be performed to treat
conditions like reflux gastritis, inflammation of the stomach or duodenum, peptic ulcers, as well as oesophageal and
Depending on the type of upper GI condition, the symptoms and their severity will vary. Seek medical attention when
the following symptoms persist:
Abdominal Pain or Bloating
Nausea and Vomiting
Heartburn (Acid Reflux)
Sudden changes in bowel habits
Loss of appetite
Unexplained weight loss
Such symptoms are common, but they may also be indicative of more serious illnesses such as cancer. There are many types
of upper GI cancers, including:
This is a condition in which malignant tumours develop in the oesophagus, the food pipe or tube that connects the throat
to the stomach.
This is a condition in which malignant tumours develop in the stomach, the organ that stores and digests food. It is
also known as gastric cancer.
This is a condition in which malignant tumours develop in the duodenum, the upper part of the small intestine that
connects to the stomach. Duodenal cancer is rare, but left unaddressed, the tumours can prevent food from passing to the
last stage of digestion.
This is a condition in which malignant tumours develop in the pancreas, which releases enzymes that aid in digestion and
regulate blood sugar. Pancreatic cancer is rare, but it is one of the most dangerous cancers because it does not produce
symptoms during its early stages and spreads rapidly.
This is a condition in which malignant tumours develop in the liver, the organ that produces bile. Hepatocellular
carcinoma is the most common type of liver cancer, although most liver cancers are found to have metastasized from other
parts of the body.
This is a condition in which malignant tumours develop in the gallbladder, the organ that stores bile from the liver.
If gastric or oesophageal cancer is found, the gastrointestinal surgeon in Singapore may recommend one of the following
Oesophagectomy – The partial or total removal of the oesophagus. Similar to a gastrectomy, this procedure is done to
remove tumours in the oesophagus.
Gastrectomy – The partial or total removal of the stomach. This is usually done to remove benign and malignant growths
in the stomach. It is also performed to alleviate symptoms and prevent the progression of cancer. In some cases,
gastrectomy is used to treat peptic ulcers and morbid obesity.
Laparoscopy – Also known as keyhole surgery, a laparoscopy is a minimally invasive surgery that requires just a few
small incisions, rather than a long cut. It involves inserting a thin tube (laparoscope) into the affected area through
small incisions on the abdomen. The laparoscope is attached to a camera that projects real-time images of the organs
onto a viewing monitor, ensuring that the procedure is highly precise, resulting in better outcomes.
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