Diseases affecting the gastrointestinal tract, which include the organs from mouth to anus, along the alimentary canal, are the focus of this speciality. Physicians practicing in this field are called gastroenterologists. They have usually completed about eight years of pre-medical and medical education, a year-long internship (if this is not a part of the residency), three years of an internal medicine residency, and two to three years in the gastroenterology fellowship. Gastroenterologists perform a number of diagnostic and therapeutic procedures including colonoscopy, endoscopy, endoscopic retrograde cholangiancreatography (ERCP), endoscopic ultrasound and liver biopsy.
Gastroenterology essentially addresses diseases of the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, colon and rectum, pancreas, gallbladder, bile ducts and liver. The functioning of the entire digestive system, both related to the passage of food through the digestive canal to the physiological processes of food digestion, absorption and elimination come under the purview of this specialty.
Gastrointestinal side effect such as nausea (sickness) and vomiting, constipation and diarrhoea are common side effects of some cancer treatments but they are not inevitable It is important to let your healthcare team know if you experience any gastrointestinal side effects, so that they can be treated promptly and effectively. Everyone is different and it may take several different combinations of medications to find what works best for you. Making changes to your diet and practising relaxation techniques an also help you to manage many gastrointestinal side effects.
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