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Dr. Praveen Kammar


Surgical Oncologist

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Stomach Blogs | Colon Blogs |  10 Mar 2022, Thursday

Is Gastric Cancer the Same as Colorectal Cancer?

Listening to the term “cancer” can send shivers down your spine! But nowadays with the high success rate of it’s treatment, it need not be so. As you know, cancer starts when abnormal cells in the body grow out of control and form tumors.

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Gastric cancer or colorectal cancer are cancers of the digestive tract that have the potential to spread and damage other parts of the body. Although they fall into the same category of gastrointestinal cancers, they are dramatically different. Let’s take a glance at them individually and understand the difference between the two.


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What is gastric cancer (GI)?

The stomach is part of the digestive system that connects the esophagus (food pipe) to the small intestine. Cancers arising in the stomach are called gastric cancers.

Adenocarcinoma is the most common variety of stomach cancer. Adenosqaumous carcinoma, neuroendocrine tumours, GIST, lymphoma are the other less common varieties of cancer arising in stomach.

Gastric cancer can develop in any part of the stomach and spread further into surrounding nodes, other organs such as dudodenum, pancreas, large intestine (colon), peritoneum and liver.


What is Colorectal cancer?

Colorectal cancer starts in the colon (large intestine) or the rectum (lower part of the large intestine where stool is stored before being excreted by the body). These cancers termed rectal or colon cancer, depending on the initiation site.

Colon cancer and rectal cancer are often grouped together because they have several common features. Adenocarcinoma is the most common variety of colorectal cancer. However there are other less common varieties of cancers as well.


Difference between Gastric and colorectal cancers

Gastrointestinal Cancer
Colorectal Cancer

Based on symptoms

  1. Bloating after eating small meals
  2. Black stools
  3. Problems swallowing
  4. Nausea
  5. Pain in the stomach
  6. Heart burn
  7. Unexplained weight loss
  8. Vomiting, with or without blood
  1. Blood in the stool
  2. Changes in bowel habits
  3. Diarrhea
  4. Constipation
  5. Fatigue
  6. Frequent gas pains, bloating, fullness, or cramps
  7. Stools that are narrower than usual
  8. Abdominal distention
  9. Unexplained weight loss
  10. Vomiting

Based on risk factors

  1. Age 60 or older.
  2. Being male.
  3. Obesity.
  4. Long-term inflammation of the stomach.
  5. Helicobacter pylori infection.
  6. Family history of gastric cancer.
  7. Reflux disease (GERD)
  8. Alcohol or tobacco use.
  9. High-fat diet.
  10. Salty/smoked food.
  11. Smoking.
  1. Age 50 or older.
  2. History of polyps in the colon.
  3. Obesity.
  4. Personal history of cancer.
  5. History of ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease.
  6. Family history of Lynch Syndrome or familial adenomatous polyposis

Tools used for diagnosis and staging

  1. Biopsy
  2. Endoscopy
  3. CT scan/PET scan
  1. Colonoscopy+Biopsy
  2. Digital rectal exam
  3. Fecal occult blood test
  4. Sigmoidoscopy
  5. CT scan/PET scan
  6. MRI Rectum
  1. Surgery and chemotherapy
  2. Radiation only in select cases
  1. Surgery, Chemotherapy for colon cancers
  2. Surgery, Radiation, chemotherapy for rectal cancers

The type of treatment depends on the stage of the disease which tells us how far the disease has spread.


After going through this chart, you may now have some idea on how to differentiate the two. The symptoms and risk factors can give you the red flags of the presence of either of these two cancers.

So once you notice any one of these or multiple symptoms or if you think that you fall in the high-risk category risk factors, reach out to your doctor immediately to get yourself screened. If the bad news breaks in, you know that there is a cure for it.

To know more about gastric and colorectal cancer, connect with our experts now!




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