Upper Gastrointestinal Bleeding Secondary to Malignancy

Share this content:
Although infrequent, malignancy is a cause of upper GIB that should be included on the differential diagnosis in certain patients.
Although infrequent, malignancy is a cause of upper GIB that should be included on the differential diagnosis in certain patients.

Gastrointestinal bleeding (GIB) is a common diagnosis leading to hospitalization in the United States1. Upper GIB has traditionally been defined as bleeding within the gastrointestinal tract that occurs proximal to the Ligament of Treitz.

Patients experiencing upper GIB may present with hematemesis, dark stools, nausea, abdominal pain, syncope, and hematochezia if the bleeding is brisk enough.

The most common causes of upper GIB include peptic ulcer disease, varices, esophagitis, angiodysplasia, and erosive gastritis or duodenitis.1

Malignancy represents a far more infrequent, yet important, cause of upper GIB that should be included on the differential diagnosis in certain patients.

Previous studies have reported that between 1% and 5% of all upper GIB cases are secondary to malignancies.1,2,3

Upper GIB may be the initial clinical presentation for patients with previously undiagnosed malignancies in up to 80% of cases.1

Unfortunately, by the time these patients present to the hospital, up to 75% will already have metastatic disease. When identified, malignancies causing upper GIB are most commonly primary gastric cancers followed by primary esophageal and duodenal cancers.

RELATED: Blood Test May Predict Relapse in Early-Stage Breast Cancer

Metastases from primary malignancies outside the upper gastrointestinal tract (GIT) are significantly less common, however they do occur. The most common primary sites of upper GIT metastases leading to upper GIB include melanoma, lung, pancreas, breast and colorectal.4,5

Endoscopy is frequently used to evaluate the etiology of an upper GIB and can often assist in making the diagnosis of a potential malignancy.

Page 1 of 2

Related Resources

You must be a registered member of Cancer Therapy Advisor to post a comment.

Regimen and Drug Listings

GET FULL LISTINGS OF TREATMENT Regimens and Drug INFORMATION

Bone Cancer Regimens Drugs
Brain Cancer Regimens Drugs
Breast Cancer Regimens Drugs
Endocrine Cancer Regimens Drugs
Gastrointestinal Cancer Regimens Drugs
Gynecologic Cancer Regimens Drugs
Head and Neck Cancer Regimens Drugs
Hematologic Cancer Regimens Drugs
Lung Cancer Regimens Drugs
Other Cancers Regimens
Prostate Cancer Regimens Drugs
Rare Cancers Regimens
Renal Cell Carcinoma Regimens Drugs
Skin Cancer Regimens Drugs
Urologic Cancers Regimens Drugs

Sign Up for Free e-newsletters