the fifth and six months of my fellowship consisted of a mixed rotation through sarcoma and malignancies of the gastrointestinal tract.
sarcoma is a strange but very interesting group of tumors that can affect any part of the body and any age group. i’m willing to bet that since this tumor is so rare and m.d. anderson is such a huge referral center for rare diseases, i probably saw more sarcoma cases in the past two months than i will see in my career.
gastrointestinal tumors are, on the other hand, far too common. although colon cancer probably comes to mind when you think of tumors of the gi tract, other tumors fall into this category including pancreatic, hepatocellular (liver), gastric (stomach), esophageal, and others. everyone above fifty years of age (and perhaps earlier if you have certain risk factors) needs to be screened for colon cancer. despite what you might have heard, screening is much easier than you think, and, if nothing is found, follow-up screening can be delayed for several years. ask your primary care doctor for your options for screening. trust me when i tell you that you’d much rather hear the news that a tiny polyp that was totally removed during screening was malignant than to hear that you have metastatic colon cancer that may have been found if you had been properly screened.
what else can i say? don’t smoke; don’t drink; reduce fat; increase fiber; get screened.